The legal position of employees is in some respects stronger in the Netherlands than in other European countries. At least, that is the opinion of Peter Paul de Vries, director of the VEB, a shareholder interest group.
The government has asked the Socio-Economic Council (SER) to issue an advice on ‘balanced corporate governance’. It wants to know whether, in view of the growing role of private equity and hedge funds, the position of employees should be strengthened.
The takeover of ABN Amro has added relevance to the issue. Critics said that shareholder interests overrode the interests of employees.
De Vries, who is an advisor to the SER-committee which prepares the advice on corporate governance, says the legal position of Dutch employees is strong enough as it is. Especially the worker councils’ right of inquiry would be unique in Europe.
Whether De Vries will convince the committee is unsure: he says he is merely a token character with ‘no influence whatsoever’ on the discussion. He claims that he was told a meeting was cancelled, only to find out later that it had taken place without him.
The SER consists of union and employer representatives and independent members.