We are outraged by the amendment to the Act on Solving Collective Disputes planned by the government (https://legislacja.rcl.gov.pl/projekt/12369507/katalog/12952719#12952719) and call on immediate withdraw. It is an attempt to weaken nonpartisan trade unions and an attack on their fundamental liberties. In practice, the legislation prohibits organizing strike actions by independent trade unions in many state institutions and state-owned companies. The amendment will also allow to impose a fine or order one’s liberty restriction for the mere announcement of a strike action!
The proposed law stipulates that in case of collective disputes, “participation of at least one representative organization will be a condition for conducting negotiations”. The authors of the new proposal point out that “the current provisions grant the right to initiate and conduct a collective dispute to every trade union. Such a situation, considering the multiplicity of trade unions in the workplace, makes it much more difficult to reach an agreement.” In other words, the authorities want to restrict the rights of some trade unions so that it is easier to reach an agreement!
It is worth emphasizing that also in the chapter devoted to the strike ballot, the legislator emphasizes that non-representative unions cannot take autonomous action. “The condition for holding a vote on the announcement of a strike is the participation of at least one representative trade union organization,” reads the government’s bill.
In small businesses, the change in regulations would not be significant, because there is usually at most one trade union organization. The aim of the legislator seems to be the pacification of assertive trade unions that are independent of the authority in state-owned companies such as the Polish Post or state institutions such as the Social Insurance Institution or the National Tax Administration. It is worth mentioning that, on a national scale, there are three representative trade union federations: OPZZ, Forum Związków Zawodowych (Trade Unions Forum) and NSZZ Solidarność, which on many levels are both politically and financially dependent on the government. The introduction of new regulations would mean that in many workplaces these three federations would block any protests. The other unions would not only be unable to organize legal strikes, but also to enter into collective disputes.
In addition to limiting the right to strike, the authorities also want to punish for promoting them! So far, penalties could be imposed only if the strike was against the law. According to the proposed legislation amendment, the mere announcement of a strike action is to be punishable by a fine or restriction of liberty! This is an attempt to intimidate valiant trade unions – a solution known from authoritarian states.
The above proposals are a radical limitation of trade union rights and an attempt to pacify social protests in an unconstitutional manner. Therefore, we demand immediate rejection of the act amendment proposed by the government’s proposed amendment to the act.