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2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Czech Republic

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Czech Republic, 8 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ea662142d.html [accessed 17 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 10,400,000
Capital: Prague
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The government excluded trade unions from dialogue on new labour legislation. Austerity measures were introduced. Numerous anti-union practices were reported, with multinational companies often amongst the offenders. The right to strike is limited.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN LAW

Although basic trade union rights are secured, they were set back in 2008 when the Constitutional Court repealed several provisions of the 2007 Labour Code. The right of everyone to associate freely with others to protect economic and social interests is guaranteed in the Constitution. The 2009 antidiscrimination law provides for equal treatment with regard to trade union membership and activities, but does not sufficiently protect workers against anti-union discrimination. Furthermore, while the law recognises the right to collective bargaining, there is little scope for negotiations on pay in the public sector. Finally, the right to strike is coupled with a number of restrictions. To call a strike, a two-thirds majority of the votes cast in a ballot is needed. Strikes are only allowed in the event of disputes over the conclusion of a collective agreement, and are only possible after all mediation and arbitration procedures have been exhausted, which lasts at least 30 days. The list of "essential services" exceeds the ILO definition.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN PRACTICE AND VIOLATIONS IN 2010

Background: Following elections to the Chamber of Deputies in May a new centre-right coalition government took office in June under Prime Minister Petr Necas. The Czech Republic has not been immune to the economic problems in Europe and despite a rebound in economic growth in 2010 the government pushed through a series of austerity measures. Some 40,000 civil servants, including policemen, firemen, doctors, teachers and military protested on 21 September in Prague against the planned cuts by the government. Of particular concern to the trade unions is the planned 10% reduction in state spending on wages in the public sector.

Lack of consultation hinders social dialogue: According to the country's labour code, bills relating to employment, economic and social conditions should be put before the competent trade union and employer organisations for consultation. However, the government's perfunctory approach to social dialogue was illustrated by its handling of new labour legislation in the autumn, when trade unions were effectively deprived of the opportunity to influence proposals that have important consequences for workers.

A one-day protest strike was declared by the unions on 8 December 2010 and was directed against restrictive measures implemented by the government and against wage cuts in the public services and public administration. Sweeping changes in the pay systems of public services and public administration were introduced with effect from 1 January 2011.

Failure to fulfill collective agreement: The Czech Metalworkers' Federation KOVO reported that the Kovosrot Group CZ a.s. hindered the work of the union through refusal to collect trade union contributions at its Decin branch despite the company agreeing to do so in the current collective agreement. The company's stance towards working in partnership with the union was further highlighted by the fact that in Prague unsuitable facilities were provided to the union to carry out its activities.

Carmaker seeks to brush aside union representation: The Hyundai motor manufacturing company in Nosovice has also sought to eliminate trade union activities, particularly in relation to representation of workers. Examples include not seeking the required consent of unions when amending internal rules and not inviting union representatives into investigations of occupational accidents.

Hotel group fires union officers: The Zámecký Hotel Sychrov, part of the S Group Hotels s.r.o, terminated the employment of all officers of the Czech Moravian Trade Union of Catering, Hotels and Tourism. In total seven staff were dismissed, six of them trade union members. Organisational changes were cited as the reason. These dismissals coincided with the end of a monitoring period connected to an EU subsidy granted in respect of the hotel construction.

Anti-union discrimination in the health-care sector: At the Podebrady spa resort Lázne Podebrady, a.s. five rounds of negotiations took place from March to June between the management and the Trade Union of Health Service and Social Care in the Czech Republic with a view to concluding a collective agreement for 2010. No consensus was reached even though certain partial issues had been agreed orally. When bargaining was finally closed without result, most members of the negotiating team did not receive their share in the profit of the company, although they were entitled to it in accordance with the previous collective agreement.

The poor atmosphere led to both the former and present chairpersons of the union deciding to terminate their employment relationship on 30 September 2010. Although officially by mutual agreement, this was in effect the end result of discriminatory treatment of them by the company management.

Poor industrial relations in the forestry sector: A serious and persistent problem was registered at Lesy Ceské republiky (Forests of the Czech Republic) by the Trade Union of Workers in the Woodworking Industry, Forestry and Management of Water Supplies. There have been repeated complaints regarding violation of trade union rights, including absence of information and consultation, as well as obstruction during the collective bargaining process. In this latter case, the employer failed to respond in due time to the union's proposal; the situation only changed when the union's confederation advised them to initiate an arbitration procedure. The collective agreement – concerning wages – was eventually signed after six months of bargaining. A complaint was lodged at the regional labour office in Usti nad Labem.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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