The European trade unions and Eurelectric for the companies and employers signed a joint statement on Corporate Social Responsibility, 22 June 2009. The social partners underline the importance of CSR for the electricity industry, the positive attitude towards trade unions that is required and encourage the use of common reporting standards.

EPSU’s Jan Willem Goudriaan, responsible for the energy sector underlines the importance of the statement: “CSR is an approach of continuously striving to do better than legislation and standard practice requires. By endorsing CSR and the global reporting standards as an industry, the electricity companies indicate their commitment to be recognized as employers of reference. We have set a benchmark of what constitutes acceptable behavior of electricity companies. Those companies that do not live up to the standard give the sector a bad reputation”.

The joint position takes account of the study on: Describing developments in the European electricity sector – Drivers for change: Corporate Social Responsibility (2007). The study explores the concept of CSR and reports on the developments in a range of companies in the electricity sector such as EDF, ENEL, Vattenfall and others. The study details what is needed for a successful CSR policy and gives recommendations to companies when developing CSR. Standards for social development need to be monitored, companies should respect fundamental rights, embrace open governance and reconcile the interests of various stakeholders in a quality driven approach. The statement underlines that CSR is based on a positive attitude of management towards the trade unions. The social partners explicitly agree that CSR reports are to cover:

  • Social Dialogue – including employee participation in the company, employee satisfaction, trade union recognition and collective bargaining
  • Details on Personnel
  • Health and Safety (workers related but also impact on the community)
  • Community Relations
  • Education
  • Equality and Diversity

The European unions and employers agree further that critical factors in a CSR approach to make it a success include:

  • Commitment of senior management is the only guarantee to make CSR a success
  • Involvement of key stakeholders including trade unions, customers. Employees and their representatives are best placed to advice on what constitutes a good working environment
  • Fully integrating the employees in the approach and making CSR part of daily practice
  • Multinational companies are to have a global exercise recognizing local circumstances. Such companies are also advised to develop the sharing of best practice.

The social partners have also developed a number of toolkits to assist unions and companies when dealing with policies on: