Nils Pratley, The Guardian
“Big business—if pushed hard enough by a Tory prime minister—would probably swallow binding votes on pay and a block on takeovers deemed not to serve the national interest.
“Advisory votes satisfy few; and, in practice, only a handful of companies might be affected by an end to the UK’s ‘open doors’ approach on takeovers.
“But workers on boards? Expect company chairmen to splutter on their after-dinner brandies at the CBI’s next black-tie bash.”
Ian McVeigh, head of governance, Jupiter Asset Management,
“Whatever the merits or otherwise of worker-directors, reported in ‘May vows to target big business in crackdown on ‘privileged few’, it is hard to think of a clearer way for the UK’s new prime minister to tell Europe that it is ‘regulation as usual’ than by importing a notion so heavily identified with corporate Germany.”
Ursula Weidenfeld, Financial Times
“As politicians in other countries, including Theresa May—the incoming British prime minister—are thinking about expanding workers’ rights, Germany, it seems, is quietly bidding farewell to them.
“The changing nature of the German labour market is also causing problems. Part-time and self-employed workers complain that trade unions and employers collude in protecting the interests of predominantly male full-time workers. Mitbestimmung [co-determination], they argue, has entrenched existing privileges. Employers also worry that workers’ representation does not reflect the increasingly multinational character of German companies’ workforces.”
Olaf Storbeck, Reuters
“Arguably, compromises made between management and workers have contributed to more harmonious industrial relations. In an empirical study, economists Felix FitzRoy and Kornelius Kraft concluded that co-determination had a small, positive effect on productivity.
“It’s also easy to imagine a bit of front-line common sense helping to rein in an imperious chief executive’s overly grand acquisition idea.
“Yet there are downsides. German supervisory boards, which usually have 20 members, tend to be unwieldy. Divisions among investor representatives, which give union representatives the swing vote, can hamper needed change, too. Think Volkswagen, where powerful unions have been able to slow down necessary cost cutting.”
Richard Crump, FinancialDirector.co.uk
“… putting workers’ representatives on boards will give staff a greater sense of ownership but, for example, it could also distort how management approach employee pay—with workers having conflicting priorities.
“Taking the example forward, boards must consider the best interests of the business across jurisdictions. If it is in the company’s best interests to move jobs to China, an employee representative in the UK would need to support job cuts among their own colleagues, which would place them in an unmanageable position.”