The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy is working on a draft law on collective labor disputes

The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy is working on a draft law on collective labor disputes
/ Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy

Determining the duration of a collective dispute, introducing the so-called preventive mediation and the obligation to form a coalition of trade unions in an ongoing dispute – such as: solutions are provided in the draft law on collective labor disputes prepared by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy.

The collective labor disputes bill was added to the list of legislative and program works of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday. The proposed solutions were prepared by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy.

It was noted in the information provided that in accordance with Art. 59 of the Polish Constitution, freedom of association in trade unions and in employers’ organizations is one of the fundamental freedoms of a person and a citizen. Trade unions’ rights include: the right to organize workers’ strikes and other forms of protest within the limits set by law.

The regulation of the norms contained in the constitution is the law of 23 May 1991 on the settlement of collective disputes, the so-called act on rsz. According to its provisions, a collective dispute between employees and the employer may concern working conditions, wages or social benefits, as well as trade union rights and freedoms.

The information stated that the applicable provisions of the S&R Act exhaustively define the subject matter of a collective dispute, but disputes are often brought in all matters pertaining to the collective rights and interests of employees. “Despite the fact that the law does not allow this, the interpretation of the scope of the subject matter of the dispute adopted by unions is very broad” – indicate the authors of the amendments.

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The applicable regulations also grant the right to initiate and conduct a collective dispute before any trade union organization. Such a situation – according to the project promoters – with the multitude of unions on the shop floor, makes it much more difficult to reach an agreement.

Therefore – as justified – the 30-year law on rhs requires changes.

The information included in the list of works of the government states that the effect of the new regulation is to ensure a greater degree of social peace by providing transparent, user-friendly and interpretive amicable procedures for the resolution of collective disputes and social conflicts.

The aim is, among other things, to deviate from the exhaustive definition of the subject of the collective dispute.

The new law will define the rules for instituting, conducting and terminating a collective labor dispute, which, in accordance with the proposed definition, will be a dispute between persons performing gainful employment with an employer or employers over collective union rights or freedoms, as well as professional, economic or social collective interests or rights related to the performance of work.

For example, a dispute can be conducted in all collective cases in which trade unions represent persons who perform paid work.

The bill also introduces a requirement to select a joint representation of union organizations needed to initiate and conduct a collective dispute.

The drafters of the concept indicate that the employer is often in a collective dispute with several or even a dozen unions, and that each of them can make different demands, which makes it difficult to reach a common position between the parties. In order to unify the collective labor law provisions and taking into account the need to support representative organizations postulated by the social partners, it was therefore proposed to introduce in the ongoing dispute an obligation to form a coalition of trade unions.

The regulation also provides for the introduction of a judicial review of the legality of the strike referendum. The draft also specifies the duration of the dispute. It was suggested to be 9 months – with the option of an additional 3 month extension. Within this period, the dispute must end with the preparation of relevant documents or after their expiry – it expires by operation of law.

The draft also regulates changes in keeping the list of mediators up to date with the Minister of Family and Social Policy. The law will determine the criteria for being on the list. In addition, with regard to the Social Security Act, the list of the social partner organizations represented in the Council for Social Dialogue has been left.

The ministry also wants so-called preventive mediation. The government information pointed out that, in accordance with the Act Rs, negotiations to resolve a collective dispute by mutual agreement are conducted only by the parties to the dispute, without the involvement of third parties. The drafters justify that as a result, when the parties go to the mediation stage, they can become so conflicted that in many cases it is impossible to reach an agreement.

Therefore, in order to provide the opportunity to reach an agreement at the earliest possible stage of the dispute, it was proposed to institute the so-called preventive mediation to avoid escalation of the conflict. This is to enable the parties to seek professional help from a person who guarantees impartiality and helps to reach an agreement earlier, which in turn can contribute to an increase in the number of agreements concluded at this stage of the dispute.

The draft law also makes amendments to the law on the Social Dialogue Council and other social dialogue institutions regarding the increase of the maximum spending limit, which is a financial consequence of the law. The proposed scheme raises the cost cap in terms of increasing the amount of the lump sums for members of the Supervisory Board for participating in its work. In addition, the project takes into account the need to develop new spending limits for the next 10 years in relation to RDS and provincial authorities for social dialogue.

The planned date of adoption of the regulation by the Council of Ministers is the fourth quarter of 2022 (PAP).

Author: Karolina Kropiwiec

kkr / mir /


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