© 2004
Interview with Manfred Monjé, secretary of the EWC at Hilton

FotoFotoQuestion: Was the takeover by Blackstone a surprise for the works councils?

Monjé: We did not expect something like that, also for the European management, it came as a surprise. We had a preparatory meeting of the German EWC members in February 2007, because the regular EWC meeting was planned for March / April 2007. But this was canceled because the European management after the settlement of the sale of Scandic still needed some more time to consider the new legal relationships. Between May and June 2007 there was a strange silence, but nothing indicated at such a bang as it represents a Blackstone takeover.

Question: How did behave the EWC?

Monjé: The EWC was certainly not the focus of the management. And the EWC agreement gave us not many options for action. In the meantime I tried several times for a meeting of the steering committee and an extraordinary EWC meeting, but all in vain. There was no information and the management made practically no decisions, until the transaction was settled. There was no competent partner.

Question: What strategy pursues the new owner?

Monjé: For Blackstone, it is about expansion and increase in value of its participation. Hilton however is first of all loaded with immense debt. The high price can not be earned over the operations, since all savings in the local hotels are already exhausted. It seems that the whole tourism industry is targeted by private equity capital and this was certainly not the last deal of this kind. Future markets, after all !!!

Question: What should works councils do?

Monjé: We can hardly keep up with the rapid sequence of financial transactions. In my view, works councils have to deal objectively with the matter and try to influence -- in terms of employment and employees. A few days ago, I attended a seminar for European works councils in the tourism industry, where dealing with financial investors played a major role. It is the responsibility of the trade unions to provide European works councils here with appropriate tools. Also helpful are information portals on the Internet, as developed by European trade unions in tourism now.

Manfred Monjé is the chairman of the works council at the Hilton Hotel Mainz, Germany, and a member of the food and hotel workers' trade union NGG. He is a member of the EWC since 1996 and in 1997 took over the job of the secretary (ie the speaker of the employees' side). The chairmanship lies with the employer.

Manfred Monjé was interviewed by Werner Altmeyer on 30th October 2007.

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