The Participants in the Dispute
This case study analyses the role of the Republic Agency for Peaceful Settlement of Labour Disputes in the process of negotiating – harmonizing the text of the collective agreement with the employer in order to conclude it, between the Employer and several unions of Public Enterprise X, who, along with the active participation of the Republic Agency for Peaceful Settlement of Labour Disputes, continued after the adoption of the current Labour Law.
Employer-the Public Enterprise X (hereinafter the Employer), several unions of the PEs, harmonization of the text of the proposal of the collective agreement with the employer in order to conclude the same, complex negotiations of the parties to the dispute in the process of harmonization, time pressure, reputation and contribution of the Republic Agency for Peaceful Settlement of Labour disputes in the procedure and positive experience of the parties in negotiations.
The Subject of the Dispute
The employer and the Trade Unions of PE X disputed over the content of a large number of the articles in the text of the Collective Agreement. The Employer presented the Agreement as the initial proposal of the text of the Collective Agreement, in particular about the amendments to the Labour Law regarding the application and calculation of years of service with the Employer.
In order to conclude the collective agreement with the relevant Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, it was necessary for the employer and trade unions to agree on the text of the proposal of the Collective Agreement and to continue with the further procedure of concluding the collective agreement with the relevant Ministry with the agreed proposal.
How the Arbiter was Included
After a long period of negotiation between the Employer and the Trade Union of the PE X, the proposal was sent to the Republic Agency for Peaceful Settlement of Labour Disputes to appoint a conciliator. The conciliator would assist the parties in the negotiation process in order to resolve the disputed articles of the text of the Collective Agreement of the Employer and to harmonize them with the current, amended Regulations.
Therefore, the Republic Agency for Peaceful Settlement of Labour Disputes and the acting conciliator, although formally invited to take part in the conciliation procedure between the Employer and the Trade Union of the PE, actually participated in the mentioned negotiations as an expert adviser who would contribute to the harmonization of a number of disputed articles of the proposed text of the Collective Agreement.
Short Review of the Procedure
After the submission of the proposal, the first of the two meetings was scheduled in a very short time and held in the premises of the Employer.
Those meetings were very informative and lasted for more than 6 hours without a break. The parties to the dispute, despite different attitudes regarding the text of the Collective Agreement, showed extremely good communication both with each other and with the conciliator, as well as the desire to end the long-term negotiations as soon as possible.
Separate meetings with parties to the procedure on the most disputed points of the Collective Agreement were also held. One of the especially disputed issues between the Employer and one of the trade unions was an article of the Collective Agreement concerning calculation of years of service.
Namely, during the formation of the PE, a number of the employees was taken over from the company ‘A’. The Trade Union advocated the viewpoint that this number of the employees who were taken over from the company ‘A’ should have years of service calculated in a percentage higher than the proportion of employees employed by the Employer not taken over from ‘A’.
After holding separate meetings with the parties in the negotiation process, the Trade Union nevertheless gave up on such a viewpoint, and that article of the Collective Agreement was finally harmonized.
The Outcome of the Procedure
The outcome of the negotiation procedure with the Employer brought about the conclusion of long negotiations among the parties before the Republic Agency for Peaceful Settlement of Labour Disputes was included in the negotiation process. The main outcome was the harmonized text of the Proposal of the Collective Agreement between the employer and all trade unions who participated in the said negotiations and introducing a harmonized text before the relevant Ministry in order to conclude it.
Since the negotiating parties had been trying to harmonize the text of the proposal of a Collective Agreement for almost two years before including the Republic Agency for Peaceful Settlement of Labour Disputes in the negotiation process, there had been a real possibility of negative consequences for the Employer, including the possibility of a strike.