Work is in progress on amending the act on trade unions. The government bill assumes that those who are self-employed, on a contract of mandate or contract of specific work can also join trade unions. The draft bill has already passed its first reading in the Sejm and is currently being worked on by the Committee for Social Policy and the Family. The proposed changes are revolutionary and so ambiguous that in many cases they threaten to make the relations between employers and trade unions difficult.
Trade unions not for all
Only those who work on a contract of mandate, who are self-employed, and who work on the contract of specific work and who do not bear economic risks in connection with the work they perform will have a right to join trade unions. This wording is vague; thus issues during evaluation will concern whether a person has a right to join a trade union. The uncertainty as regards the status of members of trade union organizations will cause doubt as to how employers perform their duties arising from the act toward such organizations, such as the duty to consult. For instance, an employer might not be sure whether they should consult on termination of an employment contract with a given organization.
Employers can gain more significant influence on trade unions
The changes proposed by the government can, however, create for the employers certain forms of pressure on trade unions that operate at their work establishment. As attorney Paweł Korus states, ‘In practice, employers can use the new regulations more often to destabilize the employee representations by creating so-called yellow unions.’
Employers’ options in this area are great because they have more significant impact on service providers then on the employees. Additionally, properly worded agreements with the service provider may weigh on the situation as to whether the latter will have a possibility to join trade unions.
A proper strategy towards trade unions is necessary
The new regulations will cause chaos in the relations between employers and trade unions. Therefore, it is the employers who should choose an appropriate strategy. Depending on their needs, it will be possible for instance to block a possibility for contractors to join trade unions or to question such an entitlement. The optimal solution will depend on the specifics of a given work establishment. However, due to the vague wording of the act, balancing the risk connected with the adopted strategy can turn out to be especially difficult. Thus, it will be necessary to hire professional services in this respect.
Author: Piotr Strumiński