EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life
Major national employer organisation changes name
In June 2010, the Confederation of Polish Employers officially announced it was changing its name to Employers of Poland. The confederation is the largest employer organisation in Poland and has been a member of the Tripartite Commission for Social and Economic Affairs since the commission’s inception in 1994. It is also the only central-level employer organisation on the commission. This is a summary of the organisation’s 20-year history.
Origins of Confederation of Polish Employers
The Confederation of Polish Employers (KPP) was set up in September 1989 and is now the oldest central-level representative employer organisation in Poland. In the late 1980s, the Association of Employers in Poland (Stowarzyszenie Pracodawców w Polsce) was formed as a platform of cooperation for directors of state-owned enterprises. The association, along with three other organisations, founded KPP. One of the other founders, the Central Union of Crafts (Centralny Związek Rzemiosła) soon transformed into the Polish Craft Association (ZRP), and since 1991 has also operated as a national employer organisation.
In 1990, KPP was recognised by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as the representative of Polish employers.
KPP, like all other similar organisations, was initially bound by the 1989 Act on associations, but when the Act on employer organisations was adopted in 1991, KPP was formally re-established in law as an employer organisation.
Pact on state-owned enterprise and establishment of Tripartite Commission
Following a huge wave of industrial action in 1992, the government recognised a need for introducing institutionalised social dialogue in Poland. In February 1993, it signed a pact on state-owned enterprises together with KPP and nine trade unions. Thus far, it has been the only successful national-level social pact in Poland since 1989. In 1994, the Tripartite Commission for Social and Economic Affairs was formed by an ordinance of the Council of Ministers bringing together the pact’s signatories. KPP was the only employer organisation on the Tripartite Commission until 2001.
Reform of Tripartite Commission
In 1999, the Polish Confederation of Private Employers ‘Lewiatan’ (PKPP ‘Lewiatan’) was founded as a platform for employers in genuinely private enterprises. This was to counterbalance the formerly state-owned enterprises represented by KPP. PKPP ‘Lewiatan’ soon began to address the need to determine clear conditions for representativeness of national-level employer organisations, and received the support of ZRP. In 2001, the conditions of representativeness were set by the Act on the Tripartite Commission for Social and Economic Affairs, and by the voivodship (administrative region) social dialogue commissions. PKPP ‘Lewiatan’ and ZRP took advantage of the new law and were admitted to the Tripartite Commission. In 2002, the fourth employer organisation, Business Centre Club (BCC), joined the Commission.
Evolution of KPP
In its early years, KPP comprised only employer associations from mostly large, formerly state-owned enterprises. However, in 2002, ‘individual membership’ was introduced for companies. As of 2010, KPP has a total of 101 members, among which there are 33 employer associations and 68 companies. According to the confederation’s website, the total number of companies associated directly and indirectly exceeds 7,000. About 85% of these are private entities with a total workforce of around three million people.
KPP has been involved with European and international bodies and organisations, including ILO, the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises Providing Public Services (CEEP), the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). There is also a confederation’s representative as an alternate member of Eurofound’s Governing Board.
On 15 June 2010, KPP announced it was changing its name to Employers of Poland. The Confederation’s President Andrzej Malinowski said:
Twenty years experience and the accomplishments of our organisation allow us to actively participate in programming the future of Poland. […] In order to carry out our mission, we are stepping on to a new path and changing our name and logo. The traditions of the Confederation of Polish Employers – highly respected and deeply involved in building of entrepreneurship in our country – will be continued by the Employers of Poland, modern and ready for challenges of the future.
After two decades, KPP (now Employers of Poland) still remains the largest central-level employer organisation in the country. However, its name change may indicate the organisation is seeking a new approach to the challenges all employers organisations are facing. Pluralisation of the employers’ movement is accompanied by a low employer organisation density rate at about 20% (see European Commission report Industrial Relations in Europe 2008 (2.97Mb PDF)) which ranks Poland at the bottom of the EU27 in this regard.
Jan Czarzasty, Institute of Public Affairs (ISP)