2020 will go down in history as an eventful year for everyone, in which Covid-19 demanded we adopt a new way of working. The Works Council was, of course, closely involved in the search for this new, safe way of working that respected Covid-19 measures. Another important point was maintaining a connection with colleagues who work from home. The Works Council’s agenda over the past year also dealt with acquisitions, reporting schemes and the working conditions guide.
Composition of the Works Council
Unica’s Works Council has 15 seats. The allocation of seats is linked to the various Unica clusters, all of which have at least one representative in the Works Council. Works Council members are appointed for a four-year term. Every two years, elections are held for about half of the Works Council seats. Day-to-day management consists of:
Hendrie Koerhuis (chair)
Wilbert van Abswoude (vice-chair)
Roy de Wijs (secretary)
The Works Council is supported by an official secretary. Various active committees within the Works Council focus on specific subjects, such as health, safety, well-being and the environment (HSE), finance, HR, ICT, and communications. The committees prepare matters which are subsequently decided by the Works Council as a whole. Once every two months, the Works Council consults with the Board of Directors, and twice a year with a delegation from the Supervisory Board.
Following an election, three new members from the Unica Building Projects cluster joined the Works Council on 1 January 2020. One member was re-elected in the Unica Building Intelligence cluster. One Works Council member was also re-elected for the Unica Building Services cluster, and a new member started in April 2020. In September 2020, this cluster received a new representative after the resignation of a Works Council member. There was a vacant seat for the Unica Access & Security cluster as of January 2020, so the Works Council had 14 members at the end of 2020.
Protective measures, remote work
The drastic measures necessary from mid-March 2020 due to the Covid-19 virus meant all employees had to adopt a different way of working. These measures included at least 1.5-metre social distancing between colleagues, working from home where possible, and numerous personal protective measures such as face masks, face shields and adequate ventilation. The Works Council was given detailed information by the Crisis Management Team about the various measures taken at Unica and, through its contacts in the field, assessed whether the measures were well-understood by the employees. Where necessary, proposals were made to improve communications on the subject.
Covid-19 also affected mutual consultations within the Works Council, which has held meetings remotely via Microsoft Teams since February. Unica already had these consultation facilities available and the Works Council has been using them since 2018, so it was easy for the Works Council to switch to online meetings.
Unica provides various facilities for working from home. On the grounds of its right of initiative and the questions received from many employees about how Unica deals with unforeseen costs for working from home, the Works Council submitted a proposal for a working from home scheme. The Board of Directors first wants to get a broader idea of what working in the post-Covid-19 era means for the entire organisation and will also consider other factors in its assessment, such as the layout of the workspaces in the offices and mobility needs.
Acquisitions and Integration
The Works Council was involved in the three acquisitions which expanded Unica’s network of companies in 2020. With the acquisition of Numan & Kant in March, Unica strengthened its expertise, capacity and regional presence in building intelligence. For this reason, the Works Council issued a positive recommendation on the acquisition, advising that the synergy benefits that Numan & Kant can bring to the Unica Building Intelligence cluster should be promoted and utilised as much as possible.
In mid-March, Unica acquired PCT Koudetechniek. This strengthens Unica’s products and services portfolio, which is why the Works Council also issued a positive recommendation on the addition of this company to the network of companies. This was then followed by the acquisition of Van Kempen Koudetechniek in December, further strengthening Unica’s position in this domain. The Works Council believes that this acquisition will further increase and strengthen Unica’s refrigeration expertise in the Netherlands, so it again issued a positive recommendation on this acquisition.
Reporting schemes and working conditions guide
Unica wants every employee to feel safe and comfortable at work, and everyone to treat each other with respect. New procedures and rules were issued to safeguard this mutual respect in early 2020, namely an updated policy for undesirable behaviour, employment disputes and the integrity reporting scheme (formerly the whistleblower scheme). The Works Council was closely involved in drawing up these procedures and approved them in January. It also discussed Unica’s general working conditions guide with the Board of Directors, which was valid until 2020. This resulted in a decision to maintain the current working conditions guide after this date and to apply version management. Finally, the mandatory ADV days (shorter working hours) are allocated annually by the Board of Directors in consultation with the Works Council at the beginning of each calendar, and employees are informed.
Outlook for 2021
The Works Council’s work is linked to the main work-related topics which Unica focuses on. Sustainable employability of employees is one of these topics that will be looked at in 2021. Communications from the Works Council to employees remains a recurring topic and was also addressed in 2020. The aim is to continue to inform employees carefully about developments at Unica, and the Works Council’s role in these developments.
In the second half of 2021, the Works Council will hold elections in various clusters in accordance with the schedule for members leaving office and will also assess whether the allocation of seats is still in line with cluster sizes. The Works Council will also look at how the employee representation at a number of Unica companies can be included.
Finally, in 2021 the Works Council wants to set up more frequent consultations with individual cluster directors. The Works Council representatives of each cluster will then be able to share the feedback they receive with the responsible cluster director immediately, providing these directors with a better picture of any issues requiring attention in their cluster.
26 March 2021
Wilbert van Abswoude
Roy de Wijs