In his ‘Twelve Point Plan for Labour Law’ (ILJ 2017, 169-184), Ewan McGaughey promotes the establishment of collectively-agreed permanent works councils in Point No. 3. He argues that - by giving employees a voice - economic risk will decrease while productivity will rise at the same time. Works councils, in the meaning of those representative bodies provided for by German and Austrian statutory law, indeed play an important role in the industrial relations systems of these countries, although more and more often the law in practice differs from the law in the books.
McGaughey’s proposal and an overview of information and consultation mechanisms in Austria – from a theoretical and practical point of view – serve as starting points of my talk, in which I am going to present the first outcomes of my research on information and consultation rights, with special focus on the Framework-Directive 2002/14/EC (ICFD). This research forms part of a book-project on ‘EU Collective Labour Law’, edited by Beryl ter Haar (Leiden University) and Attila Kun (Károli Gáspár University). Yet, it is not the paper’s aim to write another commentary on the ICFD. On the one hand, contentious issues regarding the directive’s interpretation are addressed – whether member states are obliged to provide rules for the designation of workers’ representatives in case labour does not do so on a voluntary basis, for example. On the other hand, the paper also looks at the broader context of information and consultation inthe workplace, by taking into account economic literature especially. To give an example, one question dealt with is whether regulatory supported information and consultation mechanisms can ‘shock’ management and labour into cooperative mutuality and therefore indirectly force employers into not only accepting but also appreciating and making positive use of such mechanisms.