European framework agreement on equal opportunities signed at Areva

In November 2006, the European Metalworkers’ Federation announced that it had concluded a European framework agreement on equal opportunities with the management of the Areva Group. The agreement expresses the commitment of the signatories to improve standards of equal opportunities for men and women, and to the professional integration of disabled people within all the structures of the Areva Group in Europe.

On 16 November 2006, the energy supplier Areva and the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF) signed a European framework agreement on equal opportunities.

Aim and content of agreement

Due to the process of demographic change and the need for skills development, the Areva Group has chosen to use the agreement to promote the principle of equal opportunities in the workplace. The concept of equal opportunities and equal treatment covers non-discrimination at the recruitment stage, equal access to career promotion for all employees, as well as equal access to pay and training.

The agreement aims to define the key principles of equal opportunities in the workplace and to bring about a change in attitudes. Therefore, all employees should be informed of Areva’s commitments in the areas of equal opportunities and diversity.

Gender equality

The group intends to promote greater diversity in employee profiles and career paths with the aim of mobilising more skills and potential in the development of Areva’s markets. The coexistence of different profiles is considered to provide complementary skills and to be a major asset in terms of innovation and change. Therefore, the recruitment process will operate according to the same conditions for both sexes, namely using selection criteria based on the skills, professional experience and qualifications obtained by the candidate.

With regard to career development, the group agrees that men and women must have access to the same career paths, the same opportunities for career development and the same positions of responsibility. Vocational training is considered to be a key factor in career progression.

The Areva group also affirms that equal pay for men and women is one of the cornerstones of equality in the workplace. The signatories agree that the various components of pay must be based on identical criteria for both sexes.

Moreover, the agreement introduces measures that make it easier for men and women to reconcile their professional and private lives. Particular attention will be paid to certain working hours, and the possibility for both men and women to take parental leave, in accordance with the legislation in each country.

Employment of disabled persons

The Areva Group also plans to facilitate access to employment, training and professional integration for disabled persons. The group will create a network of disability representatives at each workplace to involve all actors at company level in the inclusion of disabled people. Furthermore, the parties have agreed on the need to set up communication and awareness-building initiatives within the company.

With regard to recruitment, Areva is developing measures to encourage applications from disabled persons. The company encourages recruitment initiatives in relation to both the standard working environment and a sheltered environment.

Disabled employees are guaranteed access to professional training in order to maintain and develop their skills throughout their careers.

Implementation of agreement

The agreement will need to be transposed to all of the 13 European countries in which the Areva Group operates. The European Works Councils (EWC), represented by the Select Committee, will be involved in implementing the agreement, in cooperation with the national and local representatives of the countries concerned. It has been agreed that the commitments shall be implemented in the following three stages.

  • Firstly, an information day will be held for the members of the EWC as well as for the human resource (HR) managers in the various European countries, aimed at creating the conditions necessary for implementing the agreement.
  • Secondly, the appropriate legal structure within each country shall sign the agreement for transposition in accordance with national regulations.
  • Finally, a local action plan will be drawn up within the entities concerned. A monitoring committee will carry out an annual review of the action plans ; this committee, comprising representatives of the HR department, the EWC and the EMF, will evaluate the practical application of the agreement.

Commentary

The agreement signed at Areva expresses a genuine commitment on the part of the signatories to improve standards of equal opportunities for men and women, and to the professional integration of disabled people. Furthermore, the agreement identifies relevant indicators to assess the progress achieved and lays the groundwork for the establishment of a follow-up committee in which the EWC is expected to play a central role. According to the EMF, ‘such an agreement constitutes a milestone for industrial relations in Europe’.

Volker Telljohann, Institute for Labour Foundation, Bologna

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