Unica’s Works Council looks back on a successful 2021 and a year of pleasant and open cooperation with the Board of Directors of Unica. Clear consideration was given by the Works Council to the acquisitions made by Unica in the past year, and the Board change that took place in 2021. At the same time, the employee survey, the introduction of the mobility scheme and allowance for working from home, as well as other changes to the conditions of employment were important agenda items.
Composition of the Works Council
In 2021, Unica’s Works Council comprised 15 members. The allocation of seats is linked to the various Unica clusters, all of which have at least one representative in the Works Council, depending on their size. Works Council members are appointed for a four-year term. Elections are held every two years, for around half the seats on the Works Council. Members can be re-elected once, for a second term. In the elections held at the end of 2021, the number of seats on the Works Council was increased to 17, starting in 2022. The former employee representation at Regel Partners BV was dissolved, and starting in the new year, the company will be represented on the Unica Works Council.
Because two members of the Works Council executive had reached the end of their second four-year term, the chairman’s gavel was handed over to Wilbert van Abswoude. To ensure a smooth transition to a new Works Council executive, Johan van Tongeren (vice chair) and Roelof Lindeboom (secretary) were introduced as new members in the executive. In February 2022, the Works Council in its new composition formally confirmed their appointments.
The Works Council is assisted by an official secretary. In addition, a number of committees active within the Works Council focus on specific subjects such as health, safety, welfare and the environment (HSE), finance, HRM, ICT and communication. The committees prepare subjects for discussion by the Works Council, and decisions are subsequently taken by the Works Council as a whole. In addition to regular consultations with the Board of Directors and an annual meeting with a delegation from the Supervisory Board, the Works Council attempts to meet with the directors of all clusters, twice a year, in order to share views on the developments within each specific cluster.
Appointment of a new CFO
In the period under review, a change took place in the Board of Directors of Unica, following a positive recommendation by the Works Council. At the end of the selection procedure, Ron van Laar personally introduced himself as new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) during a meeting of the Works Council. He then offered the Works Council the opportunity to ask questions. Following this pleasant introduction, the Works Council expressed considerable confidence in the new appointment. The Works Council would also like to express its gratitude to his predecessor, Bert Moser, who for more than three decades worked as a dedicated director of our group of companies. The Works Council is delighted to hear that despite his departure as CFO, Bert has agreed to continue his association with Unica as an advisor to the Supervisory Board.
In 2021, the Works Council was involved in the acquisitions concluded by Unica. Two of the newly acquired companies have their own Works Councils, which were of course also consulted on the proposed acquisition. Both the Works Council of Unica and the Works Councils of Pranger-Rosier and Gerco & Applicom, respectively, issued positive recommendations on the acquisitions. Both councils view the fact that their companies have joined the Unica network as a positive step towards achieving their growth ambitions, and better safeguarding the continuity of the companies in the longer term.
Targeted acquisitions have for some years been an integral part of the Unica business strategy. The content of the requests for recommendations to the Works Council on acquisitions has steadily improved over the past few years. A fixed list of questions has been drawn up on the themes in respect of which the Works Council is informed, including the financial forecasts, the development and the breakdown of the personnel at the proposed acquisition parties. Also thanks to the excellent preparations by Unica’s Mergers & Acquisitions team, requests for recommendations on acquisitions can be appropriately dealt with by the Works Council.
Conditions of employment
With regard to conditions of employment at Unica, in 2021, the main focus was on the mobility scheme introduced at the end of the year. In close consultation with the fleet manager and HRM, the Unica lease scheme was modernised, with much attention for improved flexibility and incentives for sustainable modes of transport. This marked the conclusion of a scheme that for some time had been a point of focus for the Works Council. The same applied, to some extent, to the introduction of the working from home allowance. Broadly speaking, the employees of Unica have become used to remote working, and in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic it is still the norm for many of them. Against that background, an appropriate contribution towards the costs incurred by employees for working from home was high on the Works Council agenda. The initiative proposal on this issue submitted by the Works Council was introduced in mid-2021.
The Board of Directors of Unica adopted the recommendations from the Works Council on a number of other elements of the conditions of employment. From 2022 onwards, for example, the mandatory ADV days (shorter working hours) will be less centrally allocated, giving employees greater freedom of choice as to when they wish to take up these days. The full results of the employee survey will also be provided to the Works Council, to enable them to submit more clearly structured questions to the Board and to allow the information to be used to prepare for discussions with cluster directors.
Unica is a growing and successful company, two facts that form a favourable starting point for representing the interests of the employees and the business. The Works Council views the growth of Unica as a positive development that offers our companies and our employees many new opportunities. In addition to acquisitions, improving the performance of the existing organisation is a permanent item on the agenda for discussions between Works Council and Board of Directors. In order to remain competitive now and in the future, there will also have to be attention for further process improvements within Unica.
We have every confidence that we as members of the Works Council, together with the new CFO Ron van Laar and the current CEO John Quist, are in a position to make a positive contribution to those processes. We look forward to working on achieving our goals in the years to come!
31 March 2022
Wilbert van Abswoude
Johan van Tongeren