The dismissal of a trade unionist may soon prove impossible

The House Committee on Family and Social Policy will shortly discuss a bill that makes it impossible to dismiss a trade unionist. After any determination, the employer will have to prove to the court that he has the right to terminate the employment contract with a trade union activist.

The Nowa Lewica and unions project assumes that the employer will have to prove that he has the right to fire a union activist

In April, the New Left, along with a number of trade union organizations, submitted a bill to guarantee the safety of trade union activists. The trade unions supporting the project include “Solidarność”, OPZZ and the Workers’ Initiative. Now, according to pulsHR.pl, it will be dealt with by the Parliamentary Committee on Family and Social Policy. He quoted MP Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk, who is in a sense the ‘face’ of the whole project.

Therefore, at the last meeting of the Labor Market Subcommittee, we decided to recommend that the Social Policy and Family Committee accept the project as a committee. This path signals to parliamentarians that the project has emerged beyond political divisions and responds to real needs. I hope this will allow the changes to be implemented quickly. This is important because the protection of union members needs to be strengthened as soon as possible, we still have signals of dismissal for union activities.

The main premise of the project is to make the unfair dismissal of a trade unionist almost impossible. Solving the problem is very easy. The concept introduces the presumption that the termination of an employment contract with a union activist is unlawful. To get rid of such an employee, the employer will have to prove in court that he actually has the right to fire him.

At first glance, such a solution seems rather problematic from a logistical point of view. It has been known for a long time that lawsuits can take a very long time. Fortunately, the New Left project provides a special accelerated procedure for handling such cases.

They would be diagnosed within 4 weeks. At the same time, at the request of a union activist, the court would ensure that he could continue his work. It is important that the case is heard in open court.

The unjustified dismissal of a trade unionist is a pathology with which the state must fight with all seriousness

It must be admitted that the New Left’s project has a strong justification. The unfair dismissal of a trade unionist in order to drive the union from the workplace can hardly be called ‘hypothetical’. The applicable regulations theoretically protect trade unionists against unfair dismissal. In practice, however, some employers take the step. As mentioned, cases before the judge sometimes drag on for years. At the same time, such a dishonest company can afford an eventual compensation payment. It is still a lower cost than leaving a business model based on labor exploitation.

This is the opinion of, for example, the OPZZ. The relationship in April described the problem as follows:

In Poland, it is profitable for dishonest employers to fire leaders and union leaders. So what if the law theoretically protects union members, as recovery cases drag on for years. Even if the employer loses the lawsuit, often due to the dismissal of people at the head of the union, he succeeds in destroying the union organization.

As an example of the initiators of the project, they cite the example of Mariusz Ławnik, the leader of the independent trade union of mBank employees. He was disciplined for notifying the bank’s employees that he had formed a union in it. As he himself argues:

In November, right after the union was founded, I was disciplinary out of my job. During these few months, I’ve been in an unequal battle with a great institution like my former employer. I have already received confirmation from the National Labor Inspectorate, the Chief Labor Inspector and the Human Rights Defender that I have been fired for gross violation of the provisions. Unfortunately, today the employer does not recognize the union as a corporate organization, and I do not recognize it as its chairman

There is no denying that any unjustified dismissal of a trade unionist covered by the law is a very serious matter. The state must fight the pathologies of the labor market with all seriousness. The question is, however, whether the project of the New Left and the unions has any chance of success? The United Right may want to do the unions a favor before next year’s parliamentary elections. Perhaps there is a chance for a cross-party consensus on this issue.

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