Marks and Spencer (France) V CFDT and FO

Overview

NCP Decision Accepted
Current Status Closed
Date Submitted 01/04/2001
Date Closed 23/12/2001
Case Duration 38 weeks and 0 days
Host Country France  (OECD member)
Issue(s) Closure without any prior consultations with workers: lack of information, lack of consultation, lack of notice
Provisions Cited IV.3  IV.4-a  IV.6   
Related Cases Marks and Spencer (Belgium) V FGTB and CSC
Case Description In April 2001, CFDT and FO (and later UNSA) raised the closure of Marks and Spencer with the French NCP. The announcement of the closure had been made without any prior consultations with the workers, and was therefore a breach of Chapter IV Employment and Industrial Relations. Furthermore, the decision of Marks and Spencer was an infringement of French law and the European Works Council Directive. Consequently, on 9 April the French courts ordered Marks and Spencer to suspend the implementation of its closure plans and carry out a consultation and information process.
Developments The Belgian unions FGTB and CSC raised the same issue with the Belgian NCP in May 2001 since the Belgian employees had also not received any prior information of the closure of the Marks and Spencer stores in Belgium.

Both NCPs convened a number of meetings with the unions and the company, and they also consulted the UK NCP as the home country NCP. Marks and Spencer claimed that the British stock exchange rules prohibited it from informing the employees first. However, according to the UK NCP, quoted companies could handle redundancies with confidential consultation in advance, and simultaneous announcements to the workforce and the markets.

Outcome The French and Belgian NCPs prepared a joint draft statement, but in the end they reached different conclusions. In December 2001, the French NCP stated publicly that Marks and Spencer had not consulted the employees properly and in a letter to the company, the NCP also pointed out that it had violated the Guidelines. The Belgian NCP, however, did not find enough evidence to conclude that Marks and Spencer had infringed the Guidelines.

The Marks and Spencer stores in France were acquired by Galeries Lafayette, and the employees were given the choice between a new job or severance pay. The opinion of the French trade unions is that the Guidelines did play some part in achieving an acceptable settlement.

Organisations

Lead NCP France NCP : Tripartite (involving several government departments and the social partners) 
Supporting NCP UK NCP : Bi-ministerial plus Multi-stakeholder Independent Board 

Companies

Multinational Company Marks and Spencer

Complainants

Lead Complainant FO - Force Ouvrière : National Centre 
Lead Complainant CFDT - France : National Centre 
Supporting Complainant UNSA Union Nationale des Syndicats Autonomes : National Centre 

TUAC Analysis

Did the NCP publish its initial assessment? status-icon
Did the case involve parallel proceedings? status-icon
Was the existence of parallel proceedings an obstacle to the NCP accepting the case? status-icon
Was the businsess relationship other than that of a subsidiary? status-icon
Was the nature of the business relationship an obstacle to the NCP accepting the case? status-icon
Did the NCP inform other relevant government departments about its acceptance of this case? status-icon
Did the NCP offer mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Did the company accept the offer of mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Did the complainant(s) accept the offer of mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Was mediation or conciliation held? status-icon
Was mediation or conciliation conducted by a professional mediator? status-icon
Did the parties reach agreement? status-icon
If yes, did the NCP publish this agreement following the consent of the parties? status-icon
If mediation was refused or failed did the NCP make an assessment of whether the company had breached the Guidelines? status-icon
Did the NCP conduct in-host country fact finding? status-icon
Did the NCP make recommendations to the company on the future implementation of the Guidelines? status-icon
Did the NCP publish its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP provide for follow-up of the agreement/recommendations? status-icon
Did the NCP inform other relevant government departments about its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP inform public pension funds about its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP apply any consequences in this case? status-icon
Did the NCP follow the indicative timescales set out in the procedural guidance? status-icon
Was there a positive outcome for the workers involved in this case? status-icon
Did the filing of the case under the Guidelines have a positive impact for the workers involved? status-icon
Did the lead NCP play a positive role? status-icon
If different, did the home NCP play a positive role? status-icon

TUAC Assessment

It was clearly unfortunate that the NCPs reached different conclusions, necessitating better coordination between NCPs.