Informing and consulting employees

One of the ways in which ABB managers engage with employees in Europe is through regular high-level meetings with the ABB Employees Council Europe (ECE) which includes representatives covering 25 European countries.

The ECE, known more commonly as the European Works Council, started in 1996 primarily as an information-sharing platform for representatives of national works councils. However, its focus has expanded in recent years. The right to information and consultation on key issues was agreed in the ABB Voluntary Agreement in 2013 following a new European Union directive which granted European works councils the right of consultation.

The Voluntary Agreement provides for consultation with the ECE on major transnational business issues, such as changes to the Group’s structure and organization, large investments, acquisitions and the development of new sites, as well as other labor-related issues including transfers of production, mergers, cutbacks or closures, and the introduction of new working methods or production processes.

Under the agreement, two meetings are held every year with executives. In 2014, ABB’s new strategy for 2020, the plans to turn around the Power Systems division, and health and safety were some of the main issues addressed at meetings in Germany and Belgium. ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer and head of Human Resources, Jean-Christophe Deslarzes, were among the executives who made presentations.

At the meeting in Bruges, Belgium, where 22 countries were represented, concerns were voiced about the effects of cost-saving programs and the impact of any reduction in the number of employees on workload and quality.

Another issue under review were the three information and consultation processes designed to improve the exchanges between the ECE and Group management. “These processes are relatively new and are working well, but both the ECE and ABB management need to gain further experience of them,” said ECE President, Daniela Schiermeier.

“The consultations with employees – the people who carry out the daily work - is of considerable value to our management. It provides our executives with a fuller insight into working practices and the reality of the shop floor. Our managers need this to be able to make fully informed decisions.”