After Vilvoorde: Renault EWC agreement amended

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In March 1998, an amendment to the Renault European Works Council agreement, taking account of court rulings following the closure of Renault's Vilvoorde plant in Belgium, was signed by management and French, Belgian and Spanish unions.

On 6 March 1998, an amendment to the agreement on the Renault"European group committee" (or European Works Council, EWC) was signed by the management of the French-owned motor manufacturer and the following trade unions : CFDT (Confédération française démocratique du travail), CFE-CGC (Confédération française de l'encadrement - Confédération générale des cadres), CGT (Confédération générale du travail) and CGT-FO (Confédération générale du travail - Force ouvrière) for France; CSC/ACV and FGTB/ABVV for Belgium and CC.OO and UGT for Spain. The aim of the amendment is to to take account of the court rulings following Renault announcement of the closure of its Vilvoorde plant in Belgium in 1997 (EU9703108F) and particularly the ruling of the French courts that the company could not close the factory without prior information and consultation of the EWC (FR9706152N).

The amendment to Renault's current 1995 EWC agreement, which did not explicitly require prior information and consultation on major corporate decisions, states the following:

" in the event of a planned exceptional decision which has transnational consequences and is of a nature such as to affect significantly employees' interests, the European group committee will meet in extraordinary session. In this situation, the European group committee will be consulted within the meaning of Article 2 of the [EWCs] Directive of 22 September 1994 - that is to say the establishment of a dialogue and an exchange of views at an appropriate time such that the elements of the discussion can still be taken into account in the decision-making process."

Renault management congratulated itself on the agreement, which it says clarifies the role of the EWC. The EWC's executive committee believes that "the agreement has become one of the clearest as far as the information and consultation obligation is concerned". It would, however, like to see the EU Directives on EWCs and collective redundancies modified "to place a definitive check on the temptation of a move towards unbridled free enterprise".

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