EWCs: Barely a Blip after Brexit?

With the official Brexit negotiations underway, it’s a good time to look at the potential impact of the process on European Works Councils (EWCs).

EWCs were created to bring together the employees of large companies operating in a pan-European capacity. The meetings are an opportunity for employees to share concerns with management and receive updates on company developments and strategy. The Directive concerned 2009/38/EC, says any company with more than 1000 employees in the EEA, and at least 150 of them in two member states should establish a European Works Council. Consequently, when the UK leaves the EU, the dynamics of many of these EWCs will be affected.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has emphasised that concerns such as citizens’ rights should be prioritised so it may be some way down the line before we have more clarity on the future of EWCs.  In the meantime, the management teams which organise the meetings, the employees who attend them and the interpreters who facilitate their discussions are all wondering what the outcome will be. The Unite union who has many members involved in EWCs has already held a conference dedicated to this issue.

Philip Sack, Director of European Employers Group has been advising companies on setting up and running European Works Councils and UK Information & Consultation arrangements since 2005. Given his unrivalled expertise on the legislative issues and contacts with EWC organisers, he is the ideal person to comment on the implications of Brexit.

In his view, post-Brexit, EWC legislation is unlikely to apply to the UK and this will have implications on works councils based throughout Europe namely:

  • whether there is a continuing obligation to have a European Works Council
  • the position of UK representatives on a European Works Council
  • possible redistribution of seats on the EWC
  • whether the governing law of the EWC will change.

Those most closely involved think that the UK government will find it difficult if not impossible to maintain the bulk of this unique legislation.  However, for companies whose employee numbers are still above the threshold outlined – even without their UK colleagues – will still need to have an EWC agreement, so companies who have filed their agreement under UK law will need to take action. Agreements can be filed in any EU member state where the company has a presence, so they will need to be transferred, given the similarities in legal system; it seems that many will look to re-file in Ireland. Furthermore, Unite, General Secretary Len McCluskey has argued in favour of finding a solution where UK workers can still have a right to participate in EWCs after the UK exits from the EU. It would certainly be strange to have a situation where some employees may not be able to participate in a council where company strategy is discussed.

For companies where the UK’s withdrawal means they will fall below this threshold, there are perhaps employee relations and practical rather than legal questions on whether to continue. Given the value that the meetings hold for employees and managers to meet and share ideas, Mr Sack believes the likelihood is that many companies will continue to hold their annual or even bi-annual meetings. There is also the practical advantage that if a company subsequently expands in Europe and hits the employee threshold again in the future, there is no need to start from scratch with setting up the works council.

There may be a need to re-allocate the number and allocation of seats but although the UK representatives would not be required to attend, it is still possible with some minor re-wording of the agreement that they can participate as invited guests, or even as full members. Managers are less affected and can be invited from whoever countries are relevant as may guest speakers and industry experts.  As the day-to-day operational team tends to be from management side, people are unlikely to want disruption and many will continue to operate in their existing systems.

In conclusion, while there may be some legislative issues, on the ground there is hope that should they choose to do so colleagues across Europe and the UK will be able to continue to communicate with each other for many years to come.

Sales conference is a reminder of our global expertise

Normally we are busy helping clients prepare for their meetings assisting with translations and interpreting but last month, the RWS Group including Eclipse, held its own sales conference.

Over 50 of our colleagues from around the world made their way to our headquarters in Buckinghamshire from all of our offices in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Gathering everyone in one place clearly demonstrated the true global reach of our organisation and the incredible expertise we bring to the market in all corners of the world. Our most recent group acquisitions in the form of Corporate Translations and LUZ saw us welcome more colleagues from both the US and Europe strengthening our expertise and reach in these regions.

As a company, we are proud to say that we can support clients with language solutions throughout their product life cycle all from within one group. We are constantly evolving and welcome the chance to share our expertise in R&D, through product development, regulatory and compliance, to commercialisation and product support.

Above all, the annual conference is an important opportunity for our senior management, marketing and sales teams to meet and review the Group’s progress, receive training and share knowledge. As colleagues we are in touch daily between our multiple locations in the UK, US, Germany and China, and sites in France, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Australia and Argentina. Between us, we work to cover patent translation and intellectual property support services and high level technical, medical, commercial, legal and financial translation services, interpreting and linguistic validation.

Clients can be reassured that from searching and filing their first foreign patent, to having interpreters assist with tender presentations, to translating legal and commercial contracts, to localising their website to subtitling their health & safety videos and ensuring their package labelling is compliant, they can find all the necessary expertise in one place.

Specialist Suppliers Secure Safety

Today, many chemical companies are multinationals with their products marketed and sold on a global scale and when it comes to language requirements, this industry has exacting and highly specialist needs. Eclipse Translations has been translating documents for major players in the global chemical industry for over 20 years and is therefore a reliable partner when it comes to providing high quality and accurate translations for this sector.

Companies in all parts of the world that purchase chemical products for use in their own production facilities; companies that form part of the chemicals supply chain and companies involved in their transportation need to have access to accurate safety-related information about the chemical products involved. For all these stakeholders, preventing incidents that affect human health and the environment is paramount and having access to this information in their own language makes a significant contribution to industry safety.

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is the main document used to convey all this information. Each time a chemical or chemical product is sold, supplied or used in a given country, an MSDS must be provided in the relevant local language. Not only does this improve industrial safety, but it also improves communication and understanding by ensuring that all personnel are able to access the relevant information. Providing an MSDS in the local language also facilitates employee instruction and training.

Translating Material Safety Data Sheets into other languages requires considerable expertise, as it is crucial that chemical and industrial terminology are translated in the correct way. The Safety and Risk phrases used on MSDSs have also been standardised, so they must never be translated anew. The officially-approved, standard translation of the Safety and Risk phrases in the language concerned must always be used.

In addition, using the correct nomenclature when translating the names of chemical substances into other languages must not be overlooked. Establishing the correct name of organic chemicals in other languages is something that can be difficult in certain cases.

When translating documents of critical importance to the client’s operations, absolute accuracy is essential, so it is vital that the translation is always be checked by a second translator. At Eclipse Translations, all of our translations are produced by specialist translators who are native-speakers of the target language. They are then subsequently checked by a second technical translator. Any matters requiring clarification during the process are discussed with the client to ensure that translations are accurate and fit for purpose.

Eclipse Translations catches up with Process Industry

Meet The Members 2017 NEPIC Conference & Exhibition

On Wednesday 21st of June we exhibited at the NEPIC 2017 Meet The Members Conference. The event was a great opportunity to mingle with 500+ process industry colleagues, showcase our language services to a large audience and meet likeminded businesses to form new partnerships with, all in one day under one roof.

This process sector in the North East already represents about half of the UK’s chemical industry and a third of all pharmaceutical industry is based in the region. Recurring themes at the Conference were the need for the industry to raise its profile and work together to scale up business and drive growth in the region. In the UK we are generally good at setting up businesses, but not so good in growing & scaling up. More ambition and a high growth agenda for the region are required.

Too many businesses stay local in the North East and further access to markets would act as a driver for more growth. And this is precisely where Eclipse comes into its own! Not only do we have a strong pedigree in providing language services to clients in the chemical sector, but we provide language solutions across the entire life-cycle of products and services from supporting research and development projects to meeting regulatory and compliance targets, to helping companies drive growth through commercialisation and international marketing using a wide range of different media.

We would like to thank the NEPIC organisers for a very successful 2017 conference and would like to thank all of our clients and attendees that we were able to spend some time with at the event. We look forward to the next one already!

Top Five Tips when Planning a Site Audit

So you’ve just found out that your company is going to be inspected by an international audit team and are wondering how you can solve the communications challenges.

Here are our five top tips for making sure things go smoothly from a language point of view.

  1.  Gather as Much Information as Possible

It may be stating the obvious but as soon as possible, find out exactly what the language requirements are. What language does the auditor speak? Is there a particular dialect, for example, do they need South American Spanish rather than European? How many people are needing language support? Are they bringing their own interpreter or expecting you to provide this service?

Don’t leave this as an afterthought, no matter how ground breaking your product is or how efficient your work processes are, if you auditors can’t fully understand, it will be harder for them to make their assessment.

  1. Think About What You Need Them to Do

If you plan and work in partnership with your chosen interpreters, they will be an invaluable part of the team during the audit process.

Think carefully in advance, what do you need them to do while they are with you? Without doubt, they will be conveying information between your staff and their auditors and helping you understand and answer questions. However, do you need them to do more: will they need to read and site translate written materials such as test results or patient notes?

Remember to mention this when initially discussing your choice of interpreter so that you can make sure you have someone who is experienced and flexible enough to cope with these multiple demands. You need to ensure that they have the relevant language skills but can also demonstrate knowledge of your industry and a track record in auditing assignments.

  1. Set a Realistic Budget

How much value do you place on passing this audit? An excellent interpreter is not cheap but they will make your company appear professional and help fulfil your audit process – this undoubtedly represents value for money.

Make sure you budget for all costs including interpreting, overtime for any work needed outside normal business hours and also travel, accommodation and subsistence.  If your auditors are going to split meetings or different sites, you need to ensure you cover any concurrent projects so may need one than one interpreter to do this.

Normally teams are quite small but if you have more than three people needing language assistance and the environment is particularly noisy, such as a factory floor or testing site, you may want to consider a portable kit with headphones. An interpreter can only work efficiently if they can clearly see and hear all the discussions taking place.

And remember by following tip one and planning well ahead of time you can make your budget go further by making saving on early bookings for travel and accommodation. It also means that you have a better choice of interpreters closer to home rather than having to source interpreters from further afield.

  1. Think About the Practicalities

Planning and briefing are the key words here; again, you will reap the benefits of thinking ahead. It is likely that you are dealing with a highly technical subject and no doubt, you have your own specialist terms and acronyms. Help your interpreter prepare by providing as much background information as possible and at least the documents for discussion.

You may also want to consider a short briefing by telephone before the actual start date as well as building in time on the first morning to go over the key points and aims of the visit.

If you have a site where safety equipment is required, check in advance whether the interpreter has safety shoes and clothing or whether you need to make these available.

Interpreting is an incredibly demanding job so remember to look after your investment, in this case your interpreter! Make sure they have regular breaks throughout the day, a decent place to stay and time on at least some of the evenings to take a break from the project. A well-rested and properly prepared interpreter will offer better quality, more consistent interpreting.

  1. Consult an Expert

In some cases, it can save time and money to consult an expert. Just as you are dealing with your own product on a daily basis, we are helping companies with audits and visits around the world so please feel free to tap into this knowledge.  Having seen many projects in practice, we know what works well, the questions to ask and the pitfalls to avoid.

We work regularly with specialist interpreters across Europe, Russia, the US and Asia on manufacturing visits, chemical and pharmaceutical audits and have an extensive resource network.

A recent project saw us assist with a series of source data verification audits across 19 sites in Russia and Eastern Europe. After initial discussions with the client, we took on the whole of the selection process and the planning and operations for the extensive team of interpreters involved.

The auditors travelled from the US, UK and European and over a three-month period, we facilitated communication between them and the on-site staff whose native languages included Bosnian/Serbian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian. Their main task was to assist with the review of written trial results and making sure the auditors could ask questions to get information to validate the study.

In each small team, everyone was working long hours to meet exacting deadlines. A large part of the project’s success was down to getting the details right in advance. As above, interpreters were selected on language ability, subject knowledge and previous experience. This allowed them to pre-empt requirements and work in conjunction with the auditor to create a time efficient processes. We also took on as many operational tasks as possible including budgeting, making travel arrangements and briefing the interpreting teams.

In a slightly different context, the celebrated paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey is quoted as saying, “I never felt interpretation was my job” – I beg to differ in an audit situation where helping others communicate is the key to success, “I always feel interpretation is our job”.

When is a German translation not just a German translation?

 Over the last 20 years at Eclipse, we have developed our language solutions and specialist knowledge to meet fully the needs of all of our customers. This means fully understanding the needs of the different departments within a company – as part of the global RWS Group, we work with colleagues on in-house services so we know different teams need different things.

Should we approach translation of a German technical specification in the same way as translating a website or subtitling an e-learning package? The answer of course is no.

Understanding what impact a customer needs from our language service shapes the workflows we apply, the technology we use, the linguist teams we select and the technical experience we need to bring to customer projects. It certainly makes our work interesting, no two days are the same which is one of the main reasons we enjoy working with our customers!

Within the same company, the corporate communications team may need our expertise in localising employee messages to support a restructure, our experience in subtitling for webcasts or on-site and remote interpreting for training. At the same time, we may also be helping its legal department to protect its intellectual property or working with the HR team to manage global compliance issues.

Our culture then has to be to work as a partner – developing an understanding of our clients’ needs and style means we almost become an in-house department reacting quickly and finding the right solution. We understand we are a key part of an increasingly global supply chain and that the right result if is only possible when you can successfully work together as a team.

Taking our work in the chemical sector for example, from R&D through to product commercialisation and support, we help customers manage regulatory compliance and drive efficiency or transformation across international sites. At any one time we may have PhD chemists to ensure accurate translation of complex chemical specification and a range of legal, financial and communications specialists working on internal and external communications.  Alongside these translators, our specialist interpreters also have a role to play assisting with tender presentations, site audits and conferences.

So if you were to ask us how we translate German? We would say it depends on what you need the translation to do for you.

EEF National Manufacturing Conference – technical sector recognises the need to communicate in multiple languages

In February, Eclipse Translations took part in the 2017 EEF National Manufacturing Conference.  The sell-out conference saw over 800 key players from the manufacturing and engineering sector descending on the QEII Conference Centre in the heart of Westminster.

Politicians, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Shadow Chancellor Rt Hon John McDonnell MP were joined by commentators, the Financial Time’s Martin Wolf and the BBC’s Steph McGovern, perfume guru and entrepreneur Jo Malone and industry stalwarts and supply chain specialists including Colin Lawther – Senior Vice President, Nissan, Supply Chain Europe and Juergen Maier, Chief Executive of Siemens plc.

A jam-packed programme saw debate on streamlining production, refining supply chains, boosting exports and managing the workforce. The impact of Brexit was, of course, high on the agenda with UK companies facing the challenge of managing different supply chains and manufacturing and compliance issues for the UK and Europe.  And, of course, there was discussion on the manufacturing buzzwords of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the Internet of Things and industrial automation.

Those we spoke to were keen to learn more about how they could make current processes more effective in a global environment.   It was obvious they wanted not only to communicate effectively with clients and prospective clients in their own language but also with their suppliers and employees to increase efficiency and manage safety issues.

There was a very definite acknowledgement and realisation that the technical sector needs to get its message across in multiple languages to succeed. These industries including automotive, aerospace and construction have some very specific terminology that needs accurate translation and interpreting and we have a network of sector specialists. Projects we were asked about included website localisation, translation of technical manuals, legal contracts and health & safety documents as well as multi-language ELearning content.

We have considerable expertise in many of these areas in fact if it was a game of snap, it would be easy to match our knowledge to these sector requirements! The Top 5 areas where we can help the manufacturing sector are:

  • Developing a global strategy
  • Meeting regulatory requirements and making safety everyone’s business
  • Driving workforce engagement
  • Implementing lean processes
  • Supporting Industry 4.0

You can read more about this here: https://blog.eclipse-translation.co.uk/2017/01/19/top-5-ways-eclipse-translations-supports-manufacturing-companies/

On a practical level, that means just some of the things we can help with are:

Annual Reports, Licensing Agreements & Commercial Contracts, Specialist Sector Reports, Technical Manuals, Tender Proposals, Manufacturing Batch and Materials Handling Documentation, Process Development Reports, Production Data, Safety Data Sheets, EH Information, Patents, Training Manuals, Promotional Materials, Recruitment Briefs, European Works Councils, Business Meetings and Site Audits.

 

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss any projects in more detail.