Deutsche Bahn negotiates its first ‘European social plan’ with is European works council
It was on 15 October 2013 during an ordinary EWC meeting that Deutsche Bahn management officially presented its consolidation and relocation plans for the group’s accounting business, transferring it from Berlin to Bucharest. It is also the very day that negotiations with the EWC that was set up in 2005 actually started. Faced with a process that will lead to several position losses as well as layoffs, the EWC sought to establish protection conditions and minimum levels of assistance for the whole of Europe.
The signed social agreement contains the following measures:
- Management will inform the EWC, in writing and on a monthly basis, as to progress with the reclassification program,
- Priority is given to employee transfers within the group as follows: first, transfers within the same business unit and in the same location, next, transfers in the same business unit and located in the same country, then, transfers to a Deutsche Bahn subsidiary located in the same country, and finally, transfers to a Deutsche Bahn subsidiary located in a different country. Currently the transfer program has started quietly but purposefully and Mr. Hensel referred to an example where seven out of eight affected Belgian employees had already transferred to other positions within the same subsidiary.
To facilitate the process Deutsche Bahn commits to:
- Coordinating the transfer activity with the HR departments of the different business units within a given country
- Setting up and leading individual careers advice meetings to help with employee job searches
- Giving access to the specific training required for a transfer to be successful
- Guaranteeing ‘mobility packages’ to smooth the financial burden of relocating and moving (where moving charges are covered when travel times between home and work exceed 240 minutes)
If a transfer to another full time position within the company is not possible then Deutsche Bahn also commits to:
- Paying redundancy compensation
- Offering part-time work
- Investigating the possibility of early retirement
- Financing job searches outside the company
In addition, in those countries with no labor legislation covering these issues then Deutsche Bahn and the EWC will negotiate minimum levels of social protection based on levels that are to be found in other European countries with better protection levels; in order to guarantee longer notice periods, access to training, access to mobility assistance, and financial assistance in situations of significant social difficulty. A fund will be established to assist this category of employees. Access to the fund would be under the condition that the local social partners were in agreement.