July 15, 2015

Seminar: "Role and Importance of Works Councils and European Works Councils and Their Relationship With Trade Unions - Threat or Need"

Milocer, 10-12 July 2015

A two-day seminar about works councils, their importance, role and whether works councils represent a threat to the unions was organised for members of the Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro from 10 to 12 July 2015. Timely and overall informing of employees is a prerequisite for the effective participation of employees in companies. Representation of the interests of employees in Montenegro is mainly implemented through trade union organizations. Bearing in mind that in many companies, especially those with fewer employees, trade union organizing is very low or almost does not exist, workers' councils play very important role in industrial relations in a large number of Western countries. Montenegrin legislation does not recognize the institute of council of employees or works councils. In this regard, there are different views on the introduction of this institute in the labor legislation. This is primarily due to insufficient information about the needs, importance and capabilities of works councils, on the one hand, and fear that the introduction of this institute into legislation would senseless existence and operation of trade unions and weaken already low level of trade unions' power, on the other hand.

Eminent lecturers, experts in this field from the European trade unions, provided all necessary information to the seminar participants and answered many questions with patience. Particularly important for the participants were experiences of lecturers regarding so-called European Works Councils, related to the multinational companies performing business in different countries. The EWCs should contribute to the development of information, consultation and social dialogue, given that the multinational companies generally use double patterns of behavior, i.e. their behavior with the employees of the mother company totally differs from their behavior with the employees in daughter companies - where the rights of employees are reduced.

Bearing in mind the quality discussion during the seminar and many questions that left open, it was generally agreed to organizing another seminar on the same subject. On that ocassion we would, through practical examples, have opportunity to understand closer the importance of works councils and prepare for their possible introduction into Montenegrin legislation, in the light of further harmonization of the national legislation with the European legislation.