Labour Research April 2002

European news

EU presses ahead with workers' rights

The information and consultation directive has now been finally adopted. However, its publication in the EU Official Journal, the date which marks the start of the three-year period to national implementation, was still awaited as Labour Research went to press.

The directive sets out minimum requirements on employees' rights to information and consultation but leaves it to national governments to draw up the arrangements for making use of these rights.

The UK government has stated that it will consult widely on the appropriate arrangements for the UK. It is also likely to ask the TUC and the employers' body the CBI to draw up a joint approach but as yet there is no timetable for this.

Meanwhile the European Commission was due to produce a directive on agency workers as Labour Research went to press. This is expected to give temporary agency workers rights to the same pay and conditions as directly employed workers doing comparable work. It may also place limits on the number of times temporary contracts can be renewed.

Even before the directive was officially published the employers had indicated their opposition. Unions on the other hand back an extension of existing rights.

The Commission is bringing forward its proposals following last year's breakdown of talks between unions and employers on a possible European-level agreement.