«TRANSNATIONALE BROSCHÜRE und Die Prozesse der Unterrichtung, Beratung aktiver Beteiligung der Arbeitnehmer im Agrarsektor – eine Perspektive zu ...»
With a view to contribute to further deepening and broadening of industrial democracy, and, in particular, to the observance and implementation of the labor and social rights of workers and employees in the agricultural sector, in the course of one year we delivered on an EU-funded project “Informed and Experienced for Sustainable Agriculture” – enhancing the information and consultation capacity of the social partners in the agricultural sector with the aim of ensuring active involvement in employment and sustainable agriculture, in partnership with the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism – EFFAT, the sector trade union organizations of Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Germany, France, Italy, and employers’ organizations from Bulgaria – the Association of Agricultural Producers in Bulgaria, and the National Union of Agricultural Cooperatives in Bulgaria with which the Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Agriculture maintains an active dialogue.
The agricultural sector across Europe has been for quite a few years in a process of restructuring, crisis situations and austerity measures, which have resulted in ongoing changes in the working environment. Hence, the need for workers and employees to be knowledgeable and flexible and to constantly upgrade their capacity.This requires access to information and training and retraining opportunities. The risks threatening businesses, the occurring changes and the consequences affecting the human factor should be studied, anticipated well in EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture advance, and managed in such a way as to allow workers to adapt, to prevent or overcome any social implications and tension. The only way to achieve this is by means of a dialogue and joint efforts.
The workers’ right to information and consultation and participation is a shared European value safeguarded in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and enshrined in the primary legislation of the European Union and a number of directives which lay down the workers’ labor, social and trade union rights.The information and consultation process is a tool facilitating the dialogue between employers and employees with a view to ensuring better working conditions, higher productivity and quality of the output, and fostering the cooperative corporate culture.
A crucial factor in this process is Directive 2002/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community, which, being transposed into the domestic legislations, lays down the employer’s obligation to provide specific information to the elected representatives of workers and employees and to conduct consultations with them on matters related to that information.The system regulated by law entitles workers and employees to be informed and consulted on crucial issues relevant to the enterprise, and, above all, to take part in managing the processes. The practical implementation of this legal option has yielded some additional benefits which encourage workers and employees to perform their tasks more efficiently and against better quality.
It is only the worker who is informed and happy with the attitude received that can be motivated and efficient.
The right to information and consultation is a right enjoyed by all workers and employees, not only by trade union members. The project activities have shown that the information and consultation system under Directive 2002/14 is underTRANSNATIONAL BROCHURE developed in enterprises that lack a trade union organization.
The fact is that the information and consultation system is effective and efficient in enterprises which have a high or medium level of trade union organization of workers and employees, and a culture for having a dialogue. Moreover, information and consultation enriches and fosters the social dialogue. A distinctive feature of the agricultural sector is the large number of small- and medium-sizedeconomic entities, which are not easily accessible for the purpose of establishing trade union organizations within them; hence, limited opportunities for the exercise of collective labor and civil rights. Furthermore, this is an impediment to the exercise of the right to information and consultation in the sector.
In view of the above, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Agriculture, together with the project partners, has been making targeted efforts to disseminate useful information among both employees and employers about the possibilities to exercise the right to information and consultation for the purpose of crisis management and overcoming social tension in agricultural enterprises, and to ensure the exchange of best practices in implementing this system in Italy, Germany and France.
In conformity with the project objectives, a survey was conducted within the project cycle whose purpose was to study the information and consultation process in the workplace, and the mindset, attitudes and behavior in relation to this process in the agricultural sector.
The analysis of the implementation of the right to information and consultation in agriculture in the partner countries is a unique accomplishment for the sector which enhances the possibilities for a social dialogue in the sector and has a positive impact on the efficiency of this dialogue.The practical experience accumulated over time by the project partner organizations in terms of collective labor bargaining was reEU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture viewed and analyzed also through the prism of the information and consultation systemsand was related to the opportunities to enhance the workers’ involvement in the enterprise governance. The positive practices in terms of special clauses in the collective bargaining agreements in conformity with the relevant legal provisions, which regulate the information and consultation processes, are available to all the partners and stakeholders interested in this topic.
The three national workshops held in the three pilot partner countries have contributed to improved knowledge and understanding of information and consultation among workers and employees and employers, and have helped identify further possibilities for actions by the social partners.
This project has enabled us to produce a representative, though partial, snapshot of the current state of affairs of the information and consultation processes in the agriculturalsector. We can thus confirm that information and consultation is a shared European value at the basis of the European social model which the trade unions have fought for over the last 50 years and shall continue to defend and develop. At present the need to have communication and a dialogue, to develop and implement the information and consultation processes and systems in agricultural farms, to foster workers’ knowledge and skills in terms of exercising these rights is clear and well understood. We, the agricultural trade unions, believe that the Common Agricultural Policy has a potential to ensure the integration of the information and consultation of workers and employees in this sector; this potential should be utilized and enhanced. The specific proposals are a part of the Political Declaration of the Participants in the Transnational Conference held within the framework of the project.
The Transnational Brochure on Information and Consultation in Agriculture is an important outcome from the partnership activities under this project. The brochure is an information
TRANSNATIONAL BROCHUREand analytical reference materialabout agriculture in Europe, in particular in the area of information and consultation in the partner countries; it providesthe stakeholders with some potential solutions and recommendations in terms of improving the employees’ and the employers’ involvement in the current dynamic processes. The brochure is part of the whole package of materials produced under this project – National Guidelines / Recommendations for improving the information and consultation processes in agriculture in the national context of the three pilot countries – Bulgaria, Romania and Republic of Macedonia –, an Analytical Report on information and consultation processes in agriculture, brochures, leaflets, etc.
We hope that this brochure will be instrumental in improving the legal framework regarding information and consultation in the workplace in the agricultural sector and in promoting industrial democracy in the sector by contributing to better informed and more experienced social partners.
THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK –
SUMMARY OF THE SURVEYS
1. european framework for information/consultation The European law-maker has introduced Directive 2002/14/ЕO with a view to ensuring a minimum framework for the purpose of information/consultation.
“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.” (Article 3)
Consultation shall be conducted:
Ͻ “at such time ….. and with such content as are appropriate”;
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” (Art. 4) Ͻ the consultation procedure shall also “enable employees’ representatives to meet the employer and obtain a response, and the reasons for that response, to any opinion they might formulate”;
Ͻ with a view to reaching an agreement on decisions within the scope of the employer’s powers” (Art. 4)
Information and consultation shall consist of:
Ͻ а) information on the recent and probable development of the undertaking’s or the establishment’s activities and economic situation ;
Ͻ b) information and consultation on the situation, structure and probable development of employment within the undertaking or establishment and on any anticipatory measures envisaged, in particular where there is a threat to employment;
Ͻ c) information and consultation on decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in work organization or in contractual relations, including those covered by the EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture Community provisions (Council Directive 98/59/EC of 20 July 1998 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to collective redundancies and Council Directive 2001/23/EC of 12 March 2001 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the safeguarding of employees’ rights in the event of transfers of undertakings, businesses or parts of undertakings or businesses) (Art. 4)
2. national mechanisms transposition of the Directive – mechanisms for
application in the partner countries:
the status of the legal framework regarding information and consultation after the transposition of Directive 2002/14/ec in the two latest member states
3. results from the surveys – national reports
3.1. GerMAnY А. National context – practices should be reviewed and reconsidered Only one-fifth of the workers and employees are trade union members, and the rate of trade union association has been dropping since the early 90’s: this is partly due to mass redundancies in the East German manufacturing sector after the unification of the two parts of Germany. The prevailing majority of the trade union members are united in the main trade union confederation DGB. Its trade union members, such as IG Metall and Ver.Di, enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy and influence.
Collective bargaining is conducted by the trade unions and the employers’ organization mostly at the sector level. It should be emphasized, however, that the system is subject to pressure – some employers either leave the employers’ organizations or are reluctant to join them, and the agreements allow for more flexibility at the enterprise level. The negotiations are conducted by the trade unions and the employers’ organizations. The collective bargaining agreements are binding for trade union members (usually all the employees are trade union members) and for the members of the employers’ organizations that have signed them.
Works councils represent employees in the workplace.