Members of the ruling party want to lower the requirements for employee representatives in company boards. The opposition is against.
Relationships to supervisory boards
Members of the Law and Justice propose changes in the selection of employees for supervisory boards. Some of the previous requirements are to be abolished. The project was handled by the Sejm’s Energy Committee of the State Treasury. The opposition is against any changes.
In the Sejm, during the session of the Sejm’s Committee on Energy and State Treasury it was originally planned to consider information on the development strategy of Polish fuel companies of PKN Orlen and Lotos Group on domestic and foreign markets. The information was to be presented by Krzysztof Tchórzewski, the Minister of Energy. However, the day before the event, the agenda was changed.
The subject of the committee’s deliberations was the first reading of the MP bill on amending the law on the rules of state property management, as well as the law on commercialisation and certain employee rights. The project was presented by Krzysztof Kubów, Member of the Law and Justice.
According to the amendment of the Act on the principles of state property management, persons elected by employees to the supervisory board of a company or a capital group will not have to, among other things, meet the requirement of having a positive opinion of the Council for companies, and higher education.
Dispute about competence
Tadeusz Aziewicz, a member of Platforma Obywatelska (Civic Platform), said that there is no reason to lower the competence criterion for members of supervisory boards of companies with Treasury shareholding – because in his opinion this is what the amendment is about.
Minister Tchórzewski said that “the trade union representatives in the companies asked me to support this parliamentary bill.” – The point is that employees become members of supervisory boards as a result of commercialization of some enterprises. State-owned companies such as the Polish Energy Group do not have such representatives. Employee union representatives presented arguments that the social side should also decide for itself who has such experience, but has no higher education or MBA, but they are driven by the interests and well-being of the company, they are long-term employees, they have knowledge, and they have the support of other trade union members – said the minister. He pointed out that these changes had nothing to do with his plans for PGE, as such voices were also heard in the room.
Leszek Miętek, member of the OPZZ presidium, said that the project was worthy of support. – I will remind the members of the former coalition that whether someone has an MBA or not does not mean that they will manage the company well. I represent the railway environment and I would like to remind you that it is the supervisory boards of the railway companies that have agreed to sell PKP Energetyka, a critical company. The arguments against this law are the devaluation of the role of trade unions and workers – he said.
Zdzisław Gawlik, Former Deputy Minister of State Treasury, member of Platforma Obywatelska (Civic Platform), said that “it is insulting employees to assume that employees are unable to pass exams to supervisory boards” by automatically assuming that they are unable to pass this step. He added that the change “is unconstitutional.”
Włodzimierz Karpiński, the former Minister of State Treasury, member of the Civic Platform, said that the treasury company should be taken care of by the management board and the company’s plans should be approved by elected and competent people. – It is a matter of standard management care to ensure that a company has a good rating and is well valued. We also have a law that already appreciates the role of the social side. – he said. He added that the opposition’s remarks do not concern the depreciation of the role of employees, but concern for standards.
What was included in the amended law on state property management?
The draft has been adopted by the Committee together with the proposed amendments and sent for further work in the Sejm.
The statement of reasons states that “the draft Act amending the Act on the principles of state property management and the Act on commercialisation and certain employee rights, hereinafter referred to as the draft, is aimed at correcting certain solutions of the Act of 16 December 2016 on the principles of state property management and the Acts amended on 1 January 2017 in connection with the reform of the state property management system. This Act shall be amended by the Act of 30 August 1996 on Commercialisation and Certain Employee Rights.”
Article 13 of the Act on state-owned assets management rules corrected the mistakenly designated PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna S.A. company. The Act stipulates Polska Grupa Energetyczna S. A. with its registered office in Warsaw.
The draft provides for an adjustment of the provisions concerning the requirements to be met by persons appointed as a member of a supervisory body by an entity authorised to exercise rights attached to shares belonging to the State Treasury or a state legal entity, including persons elected to the supervisory body by employees of companies with the participation of the State Treasury or state legal persons, as well as the provisions concerning the board of companies.
The project also stipulates that “persons elected to the supervisory body by employees will not have to fulfil the requirement of having a positive opinion of the Council for companies with the participation of the State Treasury and state legal persons, higher education or higher education obtained abroad recognised in the Republic of Poland and, inter alia, have a confirmation of having passed an examination for candidates for supervisory board members.”
Moreover, the ban on being employed with a company and a subsidiary has been abolished for these candidates. “Such a solution makes it possible to appoint many candidates to the supervisory board from among employees who, despite the failure to meet this requirement, have the knowledge about the company and the necessary trust of the employees themselves” – as we read in the explanatory memorandum.
Moreover, the ban on being employed with a company and a subsidiary has been abolished for these candidates. In the explanatory memorandum to the project we read that such a solution makes it possible to appoint many candidates to the supervisory board from among employees who, despite the failure to meet this requirement, have knowledge of the company and the necessary trust of the employees themselves.
The bill also provides for amendments to the Act of 30 August 1996 on commercialisation and certain employee rights. The arrangements introduce provisions to broaden employee participation in the selection of supervisory bodies of entities that have been established as a result of commercialisation and are currently operating within the capital group structure.