In the first decision of its kind in Italy, a court has ruled that multinational Sofidel must establish an European Works Council (EWC). The case was brought by SLC CGIL, FISTEL CISL and UNI Europa against the tissue paper production corporation, which is present across numerous European countries and headquartered in Italy. Sofidel was found to have adopted anti-union behaviour in undermining workers’ unions request to set up the legally mandated consultative structure.
“We need jobs to be empowering, not exploitative. Ensuring workers have a say in decisions that shape their lives is essential to achieving that. This sets legal precedent for the whole country and can help rebalance the scales that have, for too long, been tilted in favour of corporations. After years of anti-worker decisions, we’re beginning to see concrete signs of change at the legislative and judicial levels,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.
European Works Councils (EWCs) bring together employee representatives from the different European countries in which a multinational company has operations. These representatives are informed and consulted by central management on transnational issues of concern to the company’s employees (more here).
While these structures are mandated by a European Union Directives, it is national-level laws that implement their governance. More specifically, it is the laws of the country in which a given multinational corporation has its headquarters which apply to it. As such, this ruling sets a precedent in Italian law for all multinationals headquartered in Italy.
“Undermining union initiatives to implement legal requirements for information and consultation of workers is illegal. That much may seem obvious to many of us but this ruling is an important validation nonetheless. Judiciaries across Europe should take note, rulings like these must be the new normal if we are to address the escalating levels of inequality. Workers’ rights are human rights,” said Oliver Roethig