The works council of an alloy rim manufacturer declined to cooperate with the personnel manager, who was also the contact person for the works council. Thus, the works council had grossly infringed its obligations under the German Works Constitution Act, the Higher Labor Court Dusseldorf decided and dissolved the works council. In doing so, the court adhered to the employer’s request.
Request for Dissolution of the Works Council
The relevant employer employs just under 700 people. In 2018, a works council with 13 members was formed. The personnel manager was named as the works council’s contact person. One year later, the employer requested the dissolution of the works council.
According to Article 23 Paragraph 1 of the German Works Constitution Act, dissolution is possible if the works council has significantly violated its existing obligations towards the employer.
The employer accused the works council of various breaches of duty. It had, in particular, refused to cooperate with the personnel manager. Labor Court Solingen decided at the request of the employer that the works council be dissolved. The Higher Labor Court Dusseldorf has now confirmed this decision.
Use of the Tools in the Works Constitution
The Higher Labor Court concluded that the works council had grossly violated its obligations under the Works Constitution Act. Considering all the circumstances of the particular case, the court found that further execution of office by the works council was unacceptable.
This was particularly due to the fact that the works council refused to cooperate with the personnel manager. It had formally decided on its uncooperative stance and implemented it over a long time period time, the Higher Labor Court Dusseldorf stated. It was, however, up to the employer to appoint the works council contact person. Even if the contact person did not act in conformity with the Works Constitution Act in every respect, the works council should not have discontinued collaboration in the service of its own interests. In doing so, it had evidently and seriously violated the principle of trustful cooperation, according to the court.
The decision is not yet legally binding.
A breach of duty by one party does not justify the breach of duty by the other party. The works council should not have responded to the personnel manager’s violations by denying cooperation on its own authority. On the contrary, it should have used the tools in the Works Constitution Act to defend itself effectively.