«TRANSNATIONALE BROSCHÜRE und Die Prozesse der Unterrichtung, Beratung aktiver Beteiligung der Arbeitnehmer im Agrarsektor – eine Perspektive zu ...»
In the context of the above, FNSZ/FITUA firmly believes that I and C constitutes a basic right of all workers across Europe; therefore, the thresholds regarding the number of staff should be reviewed and lowered, which will allow covering all the workers and employees. Furthermore, it considers that the law should provide for a mandatory agreement between the employees’ representatives and the employer to be reached within the I and C procedure. Lastly, the national legislation should regulate the paid leave, the number of paid working days allocated to the tasks of employees’ representatives, their training, etc.
position of eMpLoYers and eMpLoYees The text below has been produced by FNSZ/FITUA on the basis of the summary of the questionnaires filled out by
employers and employees’ representatives:
The interviewees include 5 representatives of employers, 10 representatives of trade unions from the Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria, i.e. 4 employers and 8 representatives of trade union organizations (chairpersons), 1 farmer and 2 representatives of agricultural cooperatives (5 men and 10 women).
Time and place of the survey: a national workshop held in Sofia on 1 and 2 November 2012.
The interviewees are familiar with the legislation introducing information and consultation, but the degree of knowledge differs. The level of knowledge is such that the opportunities provided by the law are underused by employees. The law defines the cases where the employer is obliged to conduct EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture an information and consultation procedure; the time limits, the terms and procedure for designating the employees’ representatives with whom the procedure will be held, and, respectively, the rights and obligations of the employees’ representatives. The survey findings show that farmers and the members of agricultural cooperatives are less familiar with the provisions regulating the I and C processes. Moreover, this lack of knowledge is common mostly to enterprises which do not have a trade union organization. A proactive awareness-raising campaign is needed to advocate the I and C mechanisms (the BeInfo campaign conducted by CITUB structures in October-December 2012 covered 124 enterprises and proved the benefits of such a practice). The analysis of the responses showed a wish to learn more about the procedure through training, practical advice, agreements between the parties concerned. CITUB has been active along this line for many years now and has contributed to a better understanding of the meaning of I and C; it has disseminated knowledge and has assisted in developing attitudes for solving specific issues, especially under the crisis conditions. In order for this approach to be efficient, the presence of a trade union organization is needed – the findings show that the I and C system is effective where there is a trade union organization.
As regards who takes the initiative for holding the general assembly for the election of representatives for the purpose of I and C, all the interviewees are unanimous in their response: the trade union organization. Of course, there are several cases of interference by the employer; these are, however, few cases. The law defines the number of employees’ representatives, and this requirement is observed. Trainings with elected representatives have been held in some regions.
The respondents emphasize that no specialized trainings for the elected representatives from their economic entity have been held.
TRANSNATIONAL BROCHUREFNSZ/FITUA’s practice has proved on numerous occasions that the legal provisions regarding information and consultation have enriched the social dialogue and have further developed the collective bargaining.
The law also lays down some general rules regarding the employer’s obligation to inform and consult the employees’ representatives in the event of mass redundanciesand changes of the employer,changes in the activity, the economic standing and the overall organization of working hours,etc. In addition, there are individual agreements concluded outside the collective bargaining agreements. The latter contain provisions aimed at preventing the negative social consequences from changes in the output structure. The analysis of the responses and the experience show that the provisions in the collective bargaining agreements ensure a higher level of security, sustainability and control in conformity with the labor legislation than the agreements concluded with the representatives. The agreements further enhance the involvement of workers in the overall labor environment and the development of industrial democracy.
In conclusion, all the interviewees shared the opinion that the state should take serious measures to foster the exercise of workers’ and employees’ entitlement to information, the latter being a basic right. The respondents came up with proposals urging for real sanctions to be regulated in respect to employers who do not provide the relevant information. This is fully in line with the opinion of the trade union organizations and the social partners in Bulgaria. The latter opt for lowering the threshold in terms of the number of staff as a precondition for the I and C procedure – such a demand is entirely justified, as the agricultural sector is using substantial assets and is defined as a promising contributor to the country’s GDP growth, especially due to the absorption of EU funds. The objectives for the development of this sector, in particular the developEU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture ment of a modern agriculture at the national level, require enhanced dynamics in the general social relations. The exercise of the right to I and C should run in parallel with broadening and enriching the range of knowledge and skills of those involved in the process – this means, in particular, ensuring the necessary resources for the efficient training of employees’ representatives.
3.3. FrAnce А. National context – Complex, efficient, but the thresholds for the number of employees are a real impediment for the sector Given the 8% trade union association rate, France ranks last in Europe under this criterion. The French trade union movement consists of many confederations which compete in the contest for attracting new members. The main trade union confederations in France are CGT, CFDT, FO, CFTC and CFECGC. Irrespective of the low rate of trade union association and the apparent fragmentation, the French trade unions are broadly supported in the elections for employees’ representatives, and have the capacity to successfully mobilize workers and employees.
Collective bargaining takes place at the national and sector levels, and at the enterprise level. Each level has detailed and precise rules which define the eligibility criteria for participation in negotiations, and the conditions to be met by a valid collective bargaining agreement. In terms of coverage, the collective bargaining at the sector level is more relevant, even though the remuneration negotiated at this level is sometimes lower than the minimum wage negotiated at the national level.
France has a complex system of employees’ representation at work, which is based on both trade unions and the structures directly elected by the employees. Where the enTRANSNATIONAL BROCHURE terprise has a trade union organization, the trade union representative plays the major role in representing the employees.
The works council is entitled to be informed and/or consulted on a variety of matters; it manages the enterprise’s social infrastructure, e.g. the canteen. As mentioned, sometimes the council takes part in the collective bargaining, but these are cases of exception.
The right to information covers social (labor), economic and financial matters. The group of social issues includes: the number and types of employees; the reasons for temporary employment, substitution or part-time; forecasts in terms of employment; the situation of men and women; changes in the collective bargaining agreements; training. The group of economic and financial issues includes: the ownership of the company; turnover and profit; output levels; investments and state aid; outsourcing; remuneration structure; projects related to equipment or production methods; future prospects. The information provided to the works council and shareholders should be identical with the information contained in the audit report.
The rights of the works council to consultation are more limited. The employer is obliged to consult the council prior to implementing measures which concern: the number of the staff; working hours; working conditions; training. The specific areas where the works council shall be consulted are: proposals for redundancies; substantial structural changes, such as mergers; R & D policy; mass redundancies; introduction of new technologies; working conditions and working hours;
training; health and safety at work.
The consultation procedure does not imply that taking the relevant measures is conditional on the consent of the works council. The purpose is for the council to be able to share its position on the matter. The procedure takes the form of communication in writing by the employer and is conducted within a certain time limit before taking the decision in order to enable EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture the dialogue between the two parties. While the mechanism for the consultation procedure is clearly and precisely defined, its impact is limited in practice. The management is obliged to get acquainted with the position of the employees’ representatives but it is not obliged to make changes in its projects to accommodate that position.
Mass redundancies and restructuring are an exception to the rule – quite a few works councils approached the court in order to curb the ambitions of their employers; their claims were on the grounds of the employer’s failure to conduct a consultation procedure. In some cases, this has resulted in postponing large-scale projects. The new legislation of 2005 may provide an alternative by means of the so-called “methodological contracts” to be concluded with the trade unions (and not with the works council). This contract will clearly define the method for conducting consultation, which, however, does not rule out the possibility for the works council to initiate court proceedings.
As regards the other issues, there is a limited range of topics on which the consent of the works council is required – for example, choosing the structure of medical services.
The employees’ representatives can attend the sessions of the board of directors of the company either in their capacity of elected representatives by all the staff or in their capacity of representatives of the employees who are shareholders.
There is yet another option – they can take part in the sessions of the board of directors without being its members, only with the right to ask questions.
The French representatives in the bodies related to the European works councils and the European companies are designated by the trade unions. It is, however, the representative body that decides on the arrangements for designating employees’ representatives to sit on the board of directors in European companies.
TRANSNATIONAL BROCHUREA Committee for Health and Safety at Work shall be set up in any establishment which operates in conformity with the Labor Code and has at least 50 employees.
Trade union representatives and employees who have been trade union representatives during the last 12 months can be dismissed only if a meeting has been held with the employer and the works council has been consulted, with the permission of the competent labor inspector. While the same safeguard applies with respect to employees’ representatives and the members of the works council, it has a validity of only six months after the end of their mandate. Irrespective of these safeguards, DARES statistical data show that a substantial number of such employees are dismissed every year.
B. Agricultural sector Where the undertaking has over 50 employees, the works council (or the unified representation of the staff, depending on the size) shall be informed and consulted on the social balance, health matters, restructuring, the economic committee. Its members are elected.
The employees’ representatives are elected and take part in collective bargaining in enterprises with more than 10 employees. An information board shall be put up for the employees to be informed. The employees can approach labor inspectors on any emerging issues.
While labor inspectors are entitled to intervene in the event of problems, as they represent the law, the members of the committee for the collective bargaining agreement (employers and employees) can also intervene. All representative organizations designate their own representatives.
ANEFA assists the social partners in the agricultural sector by providing them with information about decisions taken at the national level (for example, in the area of social protection or the measures for the final years of workers’ professional life).
The decisions are taken by both parties (bipartite principle).
EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture FGA CFDT organizes training for its members on information and consultation matters. Any person elected shall be trained in labor legislation issues and the rights of employees’ representatives. The trade union organizations are responsible for the training topics, and for the communication with employees (information boards, etc.). As for the employers, they usually inform only the employees’ representatives – the information provided by the employer is related to the relevant topics. The trade unions remain the privileged partners on any issues, as they usually have the capacity to take part in discussions. They have better expertise on a large number of issues as a result of the training provided to them.
The information and consultation system can be assessed in two perspectives:
Ͻ The legal obligation for a certain degree of flexibility of this mechanism;
Ͻ The enterprises in the agricultural sector are rather small, which diminishes the scope and relevance of this mechanism, as there are no representatives to inform the employees.