A seminar on employee involvement in management was organised in the frame of project WIM 2 in Ljubljana on 6 May 2016.
At the conference entitled "We need a different system of workers’ participation in management (?)", organised by the Association of Employers of Slovenia as part of the "WIM 2: Workers involvement – Straight to the challenges" project, the participants were acquainted with Slovenian and German legal framework of the system of participation of workers in management as well as with the potential amendments to Slovenian legislation in this field. The debate focused on the content of cooperation in order to achieve a balance between performance management and involvement of workers.
Jože Smole told in his introductory speech that ZDS understands the necessity of the participation of employees in decision-making processes. ZDS also believes that it is necessary to strengthen dialogue and promote mutual trust within undertakings and to promote and enhance information and consultation on the situation and probable development of employment within the company. However, worker participation in management should not only be a series of workers' rights or even rights of employee representatives. Worker participation must also include mechanisms for increasing the competitiveness of businesses and flexibility of organisation of work. Crucial are legitimacy and responsibility of the employee representatives, making decisions in favour of the company by taking into account the interests of employees.
Furthermore, Anže Hiršl explained the existing framework of employee participation in management. Jernej Tovšak, Head of Commercial Law and Intellectual Property at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology introduced the system of employee participation in profits and the related issues. He talked about the proposal of a new law on employee participation in profits prepared by the Ministry in 2015.
Nina Bakovnik from Participatory Management Centre talked about worker participation in management in Slovenian companies. Anže Hiršl concluded the conference by presenting options for worker participation in management in the future with main emphasis on the rights of employees, legitimacy of workers' representatives, responsibilities for decisions in the context of involvement in management, working in favour of the company, taking into account the interests of employees and the credibility of partners.
At a press conference held before the event, Jože Smole, Secretary-General of the Association of Employers of Slovenia and Anže Hiršl, Senior Legal Adviser of the Association of Employers of Slovenia presented their views on the draft law on employee involvement. In Jože Smole’s opinion, employee involvement is necessary precisely because business decisions and, consequently, the decision of the employer bear consequences for employees and therefore, employees must have an appropriate place in the decision-making process, i.e. in the management procedures. According to him, dialogue is a must in any company and an agreement has to be reached on the manner of employee involvement in decision-making processes. In his opinion, the proposal of the new Act on Worker Participation in Management (ZSDU-1), tabled by the United Left and prepared by the Association of Works Councils, does not improve any workers' rights arising from participation in management; rather, the proposals are aimed solely to increase the competences and rights as well as advantages of works councils. The draft law was put into the procedure without taking into account the social dialogue practices and without prior discussion at the Economic and Social Council, thereby negating the existing level of social dialogue. Jože Smole stressed that social dialogue is at its lowest level in 20 years.
Anže Hiršl highlighted some of the shortcomings of the existing law on workers' participation in management. More than with the rights and interests of employees the law deals with the employee representatives and with their rights and interests. Once the employee representatives are elected, they become self-serving and are no longer tied to the interests of employees. The bond between the employees and their representatives is completely broken or is only formal. In his view, the weaknesses of the concept of worker participation are even greater in the draft ZSDU-1, namely: full immunity of employee representatives; works council becomes an end in itself even if the workers say they no longer want it; the powers of the works council even spread to the areas that are reserved exclusively to the owners of capital in accordance with the constitutional arrangement. As a result, the draft law also increases the rights of the employee representatives without pursuing the rights of workers arising from their participation in management.
Anže Hiršl stressed that high quality dialogue cannot be prescribed. It has to be built. The foundations on which we build require careful consideration and an agreement between credible interlocutors.
With financial support by the European Union.