It pays to pre-determine your legal position and strategy.

In the Netherlands, trade unions and works councils are the key players when it comes to employee participation and labour negotiations. Trade unions negotiate and conclude collective agreements for branches of industry and individual companies, while within those companies works councils represent employees’ rights without losing sight of the interests of the company as a whole.

Obviously, amicable consultations with works councils or trade unions are preferable, but unfortunately it does not always pan out that way. The practice of pre-determining one's legal position and strategy and involving a participation body at an early stage can prevent the negotiations from becoming difficult or even collapsing. We have ample experience supporting entrepreneurs and employers’ organisations during negotiations with works councils and trade unions, enabling us to provide sound advice on strategy and tactics. Over the years, our services have proved to be of lasting value to entrepreneurs stuck in difficult consultation procedures. We have also acted as a sounding board for and advisers to several employers’ organisations for many years.

Acting on behalf of their members, trade unions conclude collective bargaining agreements regulating terms of employment, such as pay, benefits, pension, allowances, etc. In addition, companies forced to downsize also get to deal with trade unions - and/or their own works councils - in order to agree redundancy plans. AKD has considerable expertise and experience negotiating and drafting collective agreements and redundancy plans. Trade unions have been known to press home their demands by waging strikes, or by initiating work-to-rules, work stoppages and customer-friendly actions. If this happens, companies can come to us for swift and sound advice or bringing legal action, if that proves necessary.

Dutch employment legislation requires that works councils are actively involved in specific proposed economic and organisational decisions - such as the sale of the company, or part of it, or a reorganisation - and also in the drafting or amendment of certain employee schemes and systems - such as a remuneration scheme or job evaluation system. If a dispute arises, the works council may bring proceedings before the sub-District Court or the Enterprises Division of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal, depending on the nature of the dispute. AKD's lawyers will represent the entrepreneur - or the works council - in such proceedings, bringing their litigation experience and extensive knowledge in the field of co-determination to the fray.

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