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«TRANSNATIONALE BROSCHÜRE und Die Prozesse der Unterrichtung, Beratung aktiver Beteiligung der Arbeitnehmer im Agrarsektor – eine Perspektive zu ...»

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They have broad powers, which include the right to a veto in some areas. While the councils are not trade union bodies, trade union members play an important role in them. In the area of employment, employers are obliged to inform the works council about staffing needs and to address any relevant matters with it. Furthermore, the works council is entitled to consultation on training issues. While it can demand that the employer provides information about vacancies, the counEU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture cil does not have the right to prevent either the advertising of vacancies or external recruitments. Employers are obliged to inform the works council before taking any actions in terms of individual staff management (employing staff, ranking and re-ranking, relocation from one position to another, and dismissals). However, the works council has the right to challenge such measures only under specific circumstances, e.g. where such measures are contrary to effective agreements and practices in place. Moreover, the council is entitled to put forward proposals regarding gender matters. It is also entitled to participate in decision-taking on a variety of issues: work discipline matters; working hours schedule; regular breaks during working time; shortening and extending working hours (e.g. overtime or partial unemployment); paid annual leaves; rules for calculating the remuneration (e.g. on the basis of bonuses or working hours); determining bonuses and objectives; the date and method of remuneration payment; installation of CCTVs or other surveillance devices for monitoring employees’ activity and behavior; arrangements for ensuring the social infrastructure, such as a canteen or sports facilities; a functioning system for making proposals and introducing group work. The works council concludes written agreements on some of these matters with the employer. In 2001 the works council received new competences in relation to environmental protection – the employer shall involve the council in the discussion on environmental issues, and in some cases the written consent of the works council shall be required. The members of the works council are entitled to use a part of their working time for the purpose of council-related activities (e.g. taking part in meetings or putting forward proposals); this does not entail any deductions from their remuneration. The employer does not have the right to dismiss such members, unless they have committed a serious breach; such dismissals are conditional on the consent of the works council or the labor tribunal.

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The representatives at the European level are nominated by the works council. European multinational companies apply rules which safeguard the jobs of trade union representatives, and very large enterprises apply such rules in respect of the representatives of the senior management of SNGs1 and works councils.

Health and safety at work are regulated in the Health at Work Act of 1973 (Arbeitsicherheitsgesetz), amended in 1976, and in the Safety at Work Act of 1996 (Arbeitsschutzgesetz).

The works council plays an important role in ensuring health and safety at work. The council shall also be consulted in relation to the designation of safety at work delegates (Sicherheitsbeauftragte).

B. Agricultural sector – the rights need to be improved...

The Labor Code stipulates that any enterprise with at least 10 employees is entitled to establish a works council (WC). This council shall be recognized by the employer and its views and opinions shall be taken into consideration; furthermore, the principle of joint management shall be applied in relation to some matters. Due to the size of agricultural farms, there are few such councils. According to the data available to IGBAU, only 150 enterprises have WCs.

The members of WCs are elected by workers and employees. The trade unions support the choice made. The trade unions and the training institutions organize courses on topics, such as elections, rights and obligations of works councils.

The elections for WCs are held every five years. The trade unions inform the employees and the enterprises and facilitate the election process. Elections may be an opportunity to enhance the rights of WCs.

The works council receives information, which it can furSNG – Special Negotiation Group

–  –  –

ther disseminate either in a written form or verbally at meetings.

The enterprises in Germany do not have trade union organizations.

The state can and should strengthen the rights of WCs, and improve the rights related to joint management.

3.2. BuLGAriA А. National context – the state should make more efforts The transposition of the Directive regarding information and consultation into the Bulgarian legislation allows improving the situation in enterprises in terms of informing and consulting employees. By and large, the social partners perceive this as a tool for interaction between employees and employers to the benefit of the enterprise.

In Bulgaria the Directive has been transposed by means of amendments to the Labor Code – a dedicated new chapter has been inserted. The drafting of the amendments was assigned to a working group whose members were experts from the social partners who are representative at the national level and from the public authorities. The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) and the Confederation of Labor Podkrepa (CL Podkrepa) came up with a common concept regarding the transposition of Directive 2002/14/ EC. Here are some of the trade union proposals which were





rejected by the employers, members of the working group:

Ͻ Employers shall not have the right to convene a general assembly;

Ͻ Secret voting ;

Ͻ Information and consultation shall be conducted by the employees’ bodies in enterprises that have a trade union organization ;

Ͻ Employers shall be obliged to directly inform and consult employees in small and minor enterprises at general assemblies ;

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Ͻ Broadening the scope the Civil Service Act ;

Ͻ The right of sector trade union organizations to convene the employees’ general assembly in the absence of a trade union organization ;

Ͻ Mandatory agreement between the employer and the employees’ representatives in the consultation procedure.

Since the law has been applied we have witnessed confrontation in two perspectives:

Ͻ The employers’ organizations are happy with the law to the extent to which it reproduces the minimum requirements laid down in the Directive ;

Ͻ The position of the trade union organizations is different due to other reasons (provisions which entitle employees to nominate candidates; the lack of clearcut criteria in terms of the arrangements provided to employees by the employer – only an “agreement” is envisaged; the legal provisions regulating the rights of employees’ representatives and the information and consultation procedures are not clear).

The trade unions or the employees’ representatives elected in conformity with the Labor Code to represent the employees’ social and economic interests (in practice, it is always the trade unions) have a broad range of rights: to be informed and consulted in the event of planned mass redundancies (the trade union or the employees’ representatives are entitled to put forward their position on the mass redundancies project before the competent public authorities); to be informed and consulted in the event of relocation of activities of the enterprise;

to be informed and consulted in the event of changes in the working schedule; to be informed and consulted in the event of a reduction in the working hours due to downsizing the output;

to be consulted on projects regarding the introduction of more flexible working conditions; to be informed in the event of vacancies in the permanent positions for employees with fixed-term EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture employment contracts, and in the full-time positions for employees who work on a part-time basis, and vice versa.

The employees’ representatives elected for the purpose of information and consultation (or the trade unions or representatives in case the general assembly has taken a decision to empower them) shall be informed about the economic prospects and consulted on employment matters, as well as on any changes related to working arrangements and employment contracts. They are entitled to request information, to organize meetings with the employer and to have access to all the workplaces across the enterprise. The Labor Code provides for a minimum one-month term for receiving and examining the information before the relevant measure is applied. The consultation procedure has a two-week duration. The legislation enables the employer and the employees’ representatives to agree on the time limit.In the event of mass redundancies, the employer is obliged to open consultations with the representatives of the trade union organizations and the information and consultation representatives in a timely manner, but not later than 45 days prior to carrying out such redundancies, as well as to make efforts to achieve an agreement with the representatives in order to prevent or limit the mass redundancies planned and mitigate the consequences therefrom.

During the entire mandate and six months thereafter the trade union representatives who have management positions within the local trade organization in the workplace may be dismissed only with the consent of the central management of their trade union or a body authorized thereby. This provision also applies with respect to individuals in elected trade union positions at the local, sector and national levels.

As regards the dismissal of elected employees’ representatives and representatives elected for the purpose of information and consultation, the consent of the Labor Inspection is required with a view to protecting the employees’ social and

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economic interests.

Pursuant to the Labor Code, trade union activists at the enterprise, sector, regional and national levels shall be entitled, in relation to their trade union activity, to paid leave in the amount provided for in the collective bargaining agreement, but not less than 25 hours per calendar year. The collective bargaining agreements concluded at the sector level and at the FNSZ/FITUA enterprise level provide for a minimum of 40 hours per calendar year.

The trade union is entitled to the necessary facilities for performing its activities.

The employees’ representatives elected to protect the employees’ social and economic interests and the representatives elected for the purpose of information and consultation are entitled to some working time if their functions require so – either their working hours are reduced or they use some additional days of paid leave. They are also entitled to both training and the time needed for that. The arrangements are made with the employer and are included either in the collective bargaining agreement or another type of agreement.

In this context CITUB specified that it would continue its efforts aimed at amendments to the Labor Code where no consensus is reached between the social partners.

B. Agricultural sector position of FnsZ/FituA (Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Agriculture) The collective bargaining agreements contain specific

provisions regarding information and consultation:

Ͻ Providing precise and comprehensible information about the economic and financial standing of the enterprise;

Ͻ Mandatory consultations prior to any mass redundancies in order to achieve an agreement and thus prevent negative or restrictive social consequences for workers EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture and employees;

Ͻ Changes in the management where such changes may deteriorate the situation in terms of employment and working conditions.

The Organization has closely followed up any issues related to the application of the Information and Consultation Act and has developed a training program on the legal and practical aspects of this topic. At present the FNSZ/FITUA has representatives in 11 agricultural enterprises; however, it does not have data about the total number of enterprises where the right to information and consultation (I and C) is exercised.

The reason for the small number of enterprises where the information and consultation procedure has been implemented relates not only to the legislative requirement concerning the number of workers and employees, but also to fact that all the norms and requirements regarding the employer’s obligations are laid down in the collective bargaining agreements. The civil servants who are trade union members of FNSZ/FITUA do not enjoy the right to information and consultation, as the I & C procedure is not regulated in the Civil Service Act, which is yet another challenge.

The majority of agricultural undertakings are minor and small. In most cases they do not meet the requirements in terms of the number of staff in order to be entitled to an I and C procedure. This is a substantial hurdle to the development and implementationof this right which is indeed necessary regardless of the fact that the Bulgaria legislation has introduced the minimum threshold defined in Directive 2002/14/EC. The trade

union organization identified the following gaps:

Ͻ The regulation needs to be fine-tuned in order for stakeholders to receive timely information;

Ͻ This would facilitate the delivery of the social objectives in the event of mass redundancies and structural changes;

TRANSNATIONAL BROCHURE

Ͻ While the current regulation allows for the potential range of I and C provisions, which may be included in the collective bargaining agreements, to be broadened in the negotiation process, there is social tension, which can be prevented and conflicts can be resolved.



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