Interview with Frank Ganschow, SNB chairman at tesa
Question: How did the initiative of a SE transformation arise?
Ganschow: It was the wish of the shareholders to change the legal form. Since tesa employs almost 2,000 employees in Germany and is short of the threshold of an equal number of representatives on the supervisory board, a certain scepticism arose with us. With the SE transformation the third participation in the supervisory board is now confirmed even if the workforce grows.
Question: How did the negotiations go on?
Ganschow: We were confronted with the choice, whether we prefer additional representatives in the new supervisory board (more than these today's third participation) or a powerful SE works council. After this question was decided in favour of the works council, the negotiations with central management went on fairly, constructively and very speedily – as we used to at tesa also with other topics.
Question: What are the most important successes of the negotiations?
Ganschow: We could succeed with some points which go beyond the minimum regulations of the law. The future SE works council meets twice every year and has an access right to all branch offices. The steering committee can carry out additional meetings and consists of all European regions. It can when required take care of problems of the employees in branch offices of countries without works council. There is a mediation at disputes with central management. We can independently initiate topics at an European level. Since there wasn't any European works council at tesa till now yet, this is a considerable progress for the employees outside Germany.
Question: What would you recommend to other works councils, which are confronted with a SE transformation?
Ganschow: According to the law the negotiations must be completed within six months. Therefore it is important for the employees' side in the special negotiation body to communicate very fast towards a common line, otherwise you run out of time. Of course I wish that every other works council finds similar fair negotiating parties as we had.
I judge negative that with our regulation the external trade union officers don't get any seat in the supervisory board. However, altogether a good SE works council brings us more than additional mandates in the supervisory board.
Frank Ganschow is the chairman of the tesa central works council and of the works council in the head office in Hamburg. He belongs to the supervisory board since 2001 and was chairman of the special negotiation body. Since 1979 he is also a member of IG BCE trade union.
Frank Ganschow was interviewed by Werner Altmeyer on December 19th, 2008.