Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Northern Foods in mass works councils set-upOn 11 Jan 2000 in Personnel Today European law has prompted Northern Foods to introduce continental-styleworks councils at its 18 subsidiaries.The Hull-based producer is to set up a forum at each of its constituentcompanies. This goes far beyond the statutory minimum of an international workscouncil for the group set out by the European Works Council directive, which isextended to cover UK staff from this week.The Hull-based firm’s chairman is Lord Haskins, a key business adviser toTony Blair. There is some irony in the move as Blair led the opposition to theEuropean Commission’s plan for compulsory works councils for all employers with50 staff or more.Group personnel director Mike Morgan denied that Northern Foods’ move showsthat forcing a company to have staff forums is good for the business.”There is a world of difference between a company with a clear view asto how it should move a business forward and one with an external law forcingeveryone to do the same,” he said.The plans build on the company’s long-standing commitment to staffconsultation and have not been influenced by the commission’s proposals, hesaid.Northern Foods employs 22,000, nearly all of whom work in the UK, with 1,400in Ireland and about 100 in the Netherlands.Morgan added that the development is due partly to growing awareness of theimportance of “soft” business practices such as honesty incommunication. The group also plans to introduce staff attitude surveys to seeif communication improves.The recognised unions are the Transport & General, the Bakers Food andAllied Workers Union, retail union Usdaw, the GMB and the Irish union Siptu.European Works Councils directive• Under the current law, firms with at least 1,000 staff, and 150 in each oftwo or more EU countries, must set up a consultation forum if the staff requestone. • From 15 January, UK employees will be included. They were not coveredbefore because of the Social Chapter opt-out under the previous government. By Philip Whiteley Related posts:No related photos.