Introduction

Employer - workers' representatives negotiations in a company
Employer - workers' representatives negotiations in a company
Pixabay free image

Collectively, through Unions, workers have more power. Especially when it comes to sit at the table with employers to bargain for better working conditions. Everywhere in the world, Unions have always negotiated on behalf of workers fairer wages and better employment terms – that’s their job!

Collective bargaining between employers and trade unions is a key mean to achieve a larger labour protection and to reduce inequality in the workplace.

The result of negotiations is an agreement that governs all different areas crucial to a good work environment, like salary, workers’ tasks, safety, benefits, holidays, working hours, career, etc. Furthermore, such agreements set the procedures for the management of problematic issues and conflicts (how the two parts will jointly address work issues and resolve possible disputes that arise between them).

There are issues which each employee working for and employer should address so as to learn what are the duties and the rights as a worker in the company, reminding that each worker sharing a similar working activities are considered under the same umbrella of rights and duties.

Task

Worker in an European factory
Worker in an European factory
Pixabay free image

Your task is to fairly understand which are the trade union regulations and, accordingly, your rights with regards to the job you are doing or which has been offered to you. The know how you will develop in this module refer to the following areas:

  • Collective agreement: what is the agreement that union representatives have signed with labour giver representatives so as to protect your work, define the fairest conditions in terms of time and wage, guarantee physical safety, recognise allowances. Which are the requirements on the employee in order to respect as well this agreement?
  • Specific agreement: your employer and the union representatives of your company have probably negotiated further detailed features which apply specifically to your organisation and the type of job you and your colleagues are doing. It is good to know which are aspects touched by this specific negotiation
  • Rights and duties: you shall be always aware of what is mandatorily required by you in terms of duties and as well be aware of the employer duties towards you as a worker.
  • Procedures: it is also important to learn how to move and what are the necessary steps to be done in order to act properly and according to the agreement while you are working so as to comply with the requirements. At the same time, in case some issues concern you, you shall also know what to do and to whom refer so that your rights as a worker are properly respected and addressed.

In particular, you should grasp the following:

  • If, for the working activity you are doing, there is a national employment agreement
  • If, for the work you are doing, there is a business agreement
  • Which is the minimum wage
  • How many hours per week are you requested to work
  • How many off working days (holidays) you can benefit from
  • Which are your rights in particular circumstances such as illness, maternity/paternity, etc.
  • Which are your rights and which are your duties so as to guarantee your safety and other colleagues safety on the job
  • Who can help you to safeguard your rights within and outside your working place.

Process

Go through the following exercise:

Exercise n° 1:

  • Search on the internet the description (text) of the national employment agreement referring to your business sector
  • Search for information regarding a business agreement in your company which shall integrate the national one: if it exists, try to get it.

Exercise n° 2:

  • Search on the internet the main trade unions existing in your city; take note of the location of their offices and office hours open to the public.
  • Search information if, in your company, there are trade union delegates and get in contact with one of them.

Exercise n° 3:

  • Reading the national employment agreement and eventually also the business agreement of your organisation, and interviewing union officers and the union delegates of your company, collect as many information possible regarding the following aspects of your working position in your company:
    • Minimum wage
    • Weekly working hours (i.e. regular and possibly extraordinary work)
    • Holidays: how many days per year, in which period of the year you can benefit from them, how to you agree with your company on the period to benefit from these days
    • What do you need to do in case you get ill so as to notify your company about your possible absence from work
    • In case of illness, is your salary reduces? How?
    • In case your illness is long-lasting, for how long is your company committed to hold your working position?
    • If you are a woman, which are your rights at time of maternity?
    • If you are a man, which are your rights at time of paternity?
    • Which information shall your company share with you so as to enable you to safeguard your health and safety while working?

 

Conclusion

Congratulation! Now you know your fundamental rights as a worker, recognized by formal Agreements established by the Companies’ representatives and the Unions. At the same time you have also become aware of what are your duties and what can be requested to you by your employer. Both, duties and rights, shall function as a frame of reference for the stability and fairness in what you are going to perform in your working environment.

Evaluation

  • Learning Outcomes:
  • • At the end of the learning process, the learner has acquired a basic, but strong knowledge of his / her rights and duties as worker.
  • Knowledge Acquired:
  • • Basic knowledge on the structure and contents of the National employment agreement
  • • If existing, basic knowledge on the structure and contents of the agreement signed by his / her Company and Unions
  • • Knowledge of tools and procedures for the respect of recognized workers’ rights.
  • Skills Acquired:
  • • To interview and discuss with Unions’ officers and delegates.
  • • To search on the Internet documents and information regarding workers’ rights.
  • • To compare the formal rules with the actual reality.
  • Competences Acquired:
  • • To check the coherence between the actual work conditions and the rights guaranteed by the established Agreements.
  • • Problem solving: to individuate objectives and strategies to improve the work conditions.

Resources

Videos


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Other

  • Employees rights and responsibilities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h06XvaYnqo