In 1996 a number of trade-union associations took the initiative to implement the directive themselves through an agreement involving some of the country's leading trade union representatives, both of employers and of employees. The directive has now been incorporated into national law by way of Legislative Decree 74 of April 2 2002.

The key provisions of Legislative Decree 74/2002 are as follows:

  • Article 1 identifies the decree's objective as to improve the right to information and consultation of employees in undertakings and groups of undertakings that operate throughout the European Union. To this end, a European works council or an information and consultation procedure must be established in every such undertaking and group of undertakings.
  • Article 6 states that for the purposes of setting up a European works council, a special negotiating body must be created. Its members are to be appointed by the trade-union associations that signed the national collective agreement which applies to the company or group of undertakings in question, as well as by the works councils of that company or group of undertakings.
  • Article 9(6) provides that the Italian representatives on the European works council, and/or the participants in the information and consultation procedure, will be appointed in accordance with the following ratio: one-third of the representatives will be appointed by the national trade-union organization that signed the national collective agreement which applies to the company in question, while the remaining two-thirds will be appointed by the company's own works councils. All categories of employees must be represented (ie, blue collar, white collar and management).
  • Article 13 affords special protection to those members of the special negotiating body, the European works council representatives and the participants in the information and consultation procedure, as the case may be, who are employees of the company or group of undertakings. This protection is largely equivalent to the protection afforded to the shop steward in Italy. In order to carry out their duties, these representatives are entitled to at least eight hours' paid leave every three months, and to the protective measures established by Articles 22 and 24 of the Italian Workers' Statute (Law 300 of May 20 1970). Article 22 of this statute states that works council representatives can only be transferred from one establishment to another with the prior consent of the trade union to which he or she belongs. Article 24 entitles works council leaders to take unpaid leave for at least eight days a year in order to participate in collective bargaining or union activities.
  • Article 14 of the new decree states that the application of this regime shall be without prejudice to the application of Italian law concerning collective dismissals and transfers of undertakings.

The decree took effect on May 9 2002.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.