«TRANSNATIONALE BROSCHÜRE und Die Prozesse der Unterrichtung, Beratung aktiver Beteiligung der Arbeitnehmer im Agrarsektor – eine Perspektive zu ...»
Taking into consideration the specific features of this sector which ensue from the small size of enterprises, we should emphasize that the entitlement to information and consultation is a basic right of all the employees in the sector.
The potential control by labor inspectors under the guidance of the Ministry of Labor ensures the exercise of this right to the extent to which these control bodies are familiar with and/ or detect cases where the right is not applied. The legal obligation in terms of informing and consulting employees should be strengthened. On the other hand, the law cannot oblige the social partners to reach an agreement, as the very concept of obligation runs contrary to reaching an agreement. The state had better convince both parties as to the benefits of having an agreement and facilitate the discussions at the tripartite meet
ings. Where an agreement cannot be reached, the state can take over by drafting a law.
The small size of agricultural farms makes it impossible to elect representatives who willnegotiate, draft and sign agreements, and will inform and consult other workers and employees.With a view to overcoming this barrier, the social partners in agriculture concluded an agreement in 1992 (AFNCA: Fund for Financing Collective Labor Bargaining in Agriculture).This tool enabled the employees who are trade union members to use paid leave in cases where they are absent from work in order to take part in negotiating collective labor agreements.
The employer provides up to 0.05% of the remuneration due.
The funds raised are used to support the payment of remunerations and the reimbursement of the expenditures incurred by the employees involved in the collective labor bargaining.
This is of paramount relevance in the information and consultation process, as any collective bargaining agreement takes effect within a specific/limited geographic area, and employees from one sector are involved in negotiating a variety of issues. Thus, the employees taking part in negotiations play a crucial role in information dissemination and communication across the sector.
France has structures/bodies in place which ensure the ongoing career development of workers and employees. FAFseA (Fonds National d’Assurance Formationdes Salariésdes Exploitationset Entreprises Agricoles) – the National Insurance Fund for Training Workers in Agriculture and Agricultural Farms – is the structure providing the necessary services to workers and employees in agriculture and agricultural farms.
The Board of Directors organizes a variety of trainings for all the sectors. FAFSEA’s role consists in informing workers and employees about their entitlement to education and training by means of catalogues and a website. ANEFA (AsEU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture sociation Nationaledes Etablissementsde Formation Agréés) is yet another important organization that contributes to the dissemination of the relevant information.
The limitations resulting from the size of agricultural enterprises are quite serious. Therefore, the threshold for the number of staff required for the entitlement to information and consultation should be lowered. The information and consultation mechanism should give priority to the employees’ elected representatives who will use the same tools (incl. time for exercising the activity); however, this may prove difficult, as finding candidates for that purpose in small enterprises is not easy.
3.4. itALY А. National context – the scope of the right to information and consultation (I and C) should be broadened In Italy the employees’ main representative bodies – RSU – are trade union structures in their essence, irrespective of the fact that they are elected by the whole staff. Two-thirds of the members are elected by all the workers and employees out of the nominations made by the trade unions, while the other onethird of the members are elected only by the trade unions.
The employees’ representation in the workplace is based on the Statute of Workers and Employees adopted in 1970, which allows the presence of trade unions in enterprises. It should be emphasized that while the law lays down some rights and protection for trade union representatives, it does not provide a detailed regulation of the mechanisms for their appointment.
In order to remedy this situation, the three largest trade union confederations which were having close relations in the early 90’s reached an agreement to set up a new structure, RSU, in 1991. It was about introducing a unified council of all the trade unions represented in the enterprise – two-thirds of its members were elected by all the employees, while oneTRANSNATIONAL BROCHURE third were designated by the trade unions (in the public sector RSU members are elected by employees). This structure was formally approved by virtue of a contract in 1993, and the mechanisms were also implemented via a contract for the private sector in 1993 and for the public sector in 1994 (a law for the public sector was promulgated in 1997).
Irrespective of the existence of the above contracts, RSUs have not been established in all undertakings. Such RSU’s rarely exist in banks and insurance companies. Where there is no RSU, the law allows the functioning of the old systems of trade union representation, which differ depending on the collective bargaining agreements; there are enterprises where such systems do not exist.
Irrespective of its form of existence, the employees’ representation in the workplace is fundamentally based on trade unions. While RSU are elected by employees, they represent above all the trade union councils.
RSU’s main task pertains to participation in negotiations with the employer in the workplace. RSU’s are the local representations of trade unions, while the contracts whereby they have been established entitle them to negotiate binding provisions for the enterprise within the framework of collective bargaining.
The law obliges employers to inform and consult employees’ representatives on matters concerning health and safety at work, the use of public funds for restructuring, mass redundancies, and relocation of activities. Most of RSU’s rights to information and consultation are regulated in the sector collective bargaining agreements, and sometimes at the enterprise level. The employer is usually obliged to inform and consult employees’ representatives in areas, such as the economic and financial standing of the enterprise, investment projects, the number of the staff, changes in working methods, the implementation of new technologies, gender issues, and trainEU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture ing. The consultation procedure may be conducted in the form of a joint council of the employer and the trade unions. The practice of having discussions within such joint councils has been increasingly common; these discussions ensure both the preparation for the subsequent collective bargaining and its technical basis.
The Statute of Workers and Employees protects RSU members and trade union representatives in the enterprise against discrimination. The Statute explicitly defines anti-trade union attitudes as unlawful. RSU members are entitled to use paid working hours for the exercise of their activity whose duration is determined in the Statute. The total time dedicated to the activities of employees’ representation is, as follows: one hour per year / capita of the employees in enterprises and establishment with up to 200 employees; 8 hours per month / each tranche of 300 employees in enterprises and establishment with up to 3,000 employees; 8 hours per month / each complete or incomplete tranche of 500 employees enterprises and establishment with up to 3,000 employees. In addition, each RSU member is entitled to eight days of non-paid leave for trade union activities.
Employee’s representatives are entitled to use information boards. In enterprises with more than 200 employees, RSUs or any other representative employees’ body shall have its own premises (a room). Some sector collective bargaining agreements provide for the right to a limited use of external experts.
Collective bargaining agreements allow the establishment of a coordination council at the group level in corporate groups consisting of several companies or in enterprises with several entities. Group RSUs designate their members for the coordination council which usually comprises the permanent trade union members.
B. Agricultural sector In Italy the collective bargaining agreement contains provisions regarding the information and consultation of workers and employees (Part II, Articles 6-7-11-12). The preparation for the exercise of this right is ensured to employees in the course of discussing and signing the collective bargaining agreement.
Some employers are reluctant to provide the full information. The reason for that is partly due to the existence of numerous small-and medium-sized agricultural enterprises across Italy. The threshold regarding the number of staff is an impediment to employees’ representation.
Information is provided to employees via specific mechanisms. The small enterprises scattered across the country the general assemblies attended by the relevant workers and employees are used as a forum for information provision. As for large enterprises, information is provided in an organized way within the enterprise. ALPA does not have data as to the number of enterprises where the latter is applied as a method.
Undoubtedly trade union organizations are the privileged partner in the social dialogue, being directly affected by the undertaking’s issues. The process of information and consultation has practical relevance, as it facilitates putting in place common policies in the context of the challenges before the society and the labor market. Given this, the system has proved its efficiency. Regrettably, as noted above, the threshold in terms of the staff number required for this entitlement is prohibitive for the agricultural sector – it would be feasible for the national legislation to enable enterprises with fewer than 50 employees to also enjoy this right. Such a step would broaden the access to information and consultation and to the relevant training for more employees. If the system of information and consultation is made mandatory, this will contribute to limiting the opportunities for non-compliance and potential conflicts among social partners. The system should be tailored EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture to the individual sectors in view of the specific features and the size of the enterprise. Furthermore, the law should lay down a requirement for agreements to be concluded regarding the types of information to be provided by employers to employees’ representatives; the scope of this entitlement should be broadened to encompass more undertakings. Lastly, in order for employees’ representatives to be able to exercise this right and to deliver on their tasks, paid working time for both this activity and training need to be allocated.
3.5.roMAniA А. National context – the practices should be reviewed and reconsidered In Romania the various elements of the legal framework
regarding information and consultation are included in the following laws:
Ͻ The Labor Code, which lays down the general right of employees to information and consultation;
Ͻ Law No 467 of 2006 laying down the general framework for employees’ consultation and information passed by the Romanian Parliament in meeting the obligation to ensure the transposition of Directive 2002/14/ EC before the country’s accession to the EU in 2007;
Ͻ Law No 54/2003 on Trade Unions ;
Ͻ Law No 130/1996 on Collective bargaining agreements ;
Ͻ The collective bargaining agreement at the national level for 2007-2010 whose provisions are subject to renegotiation.
The focus of the presentation below is not on the content of the relevant provisions transposing the Directive but rather on a couple of implementation aspects, i.e. legal requirements which Romanian enterprises still fail to observe.
Article 5 lays down “the obligation for employers to in
form and consult employees’ representatives in conformity
with the effective legislation on the following matters:
Ͻ The current state and likely development of the activity and the economic standing of the enterprise ;
Ͻ The state, structure and likely development of employment in the enterprise, as well as any anticipatory measures envisaged, in particular where there is a threat to employment;
Ͻ Any decisions that can result in considerable changes in labor arrangements, in contractual relations or employment relations, including the ones laid down in the Romanian legislation in relation to specific information and consultation procedures in the event of mass redundancies and relocation of activities with a view to ensuring employees’ protection.”
The above article stipulates that:
“Information shall be given at such time, in such fashion and with such content as are appropriate to enable, in particular, employees’ representatives to conduct an adequate study and, where necessary, prepare for consultation. Consultation
shall be conducted:
Ͻ at such time, in such fashion and with such content as are appropriate to enable, in particular, employees’ representatives to conduct an adequate study and prepare their position;
Ͻ at the relevant level of management and representation, depending on the subject under discussion;
Ͻ on the basis of information supplied by the employer, … and of the opinion which the employees’ representatives are entitled to formulate;
Ͻ in such a way as to enable employees’ representatives to meet the employer and obtain a response, and the reasons for that response, to any opinion they might formulate;
Ͻ witha view to reaching an agreement on decisions EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture within the scope of the employer’s powers.” The findings show that consultations with trade unions are often held formally without the urge to find efficient solutions by means of a social dialogue.