First collective agreement at Guardian Automotive Europe SA

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In March 1997, Guardian Europe SA, signed its first-ever collective agreement for blue-collar workers. The deal provides for pay increases, while its provisions on other terms and conditions largely mirror statutory provisions.

Guardian Europe SA, the car window and windscreen manufacturer and member of the transnational Guardian group, lodged its first collective agreement for blue-collar workers with the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines on 6 March 1997. This collective agreement was negotiated with the OGB-L trade union, and covers a 16- month period commencing 1 March 1997.

Analysis of the agreement reveals that many of its provisions do no more than reiterate the terms of the amended Law of 24 May 1989 on the contract of employment. Such provisions include: the trial period; arrangements relating to, and notice period in the event of, unilateral termination of employment with notice or for serious misconduct; social protection covering employees in the event of sickness; and statutory leave.

The agreement breaks new ground, by comparison with statutory rights, through the introduction of "social" or special leave of up to three days per year. The employer may refuse permission if it is of the opinion that the social reason given by the employee falls outside the terms of the measure's social objective.

As for working hours, the collective agreement has also taken its lead broadly from statutory provisions (the 40-hour week), but has nonetheless brought in a new, specific element whereby, in the course of their eight-hour day, manual workers must, until 30 June 1997, take an unpaid 23-minute break. After that date, they will take a partly-paid, compulsory break of 20 minutes.

With regard to pay, the agreement refers to three categories of employee: labourers/"handlers" (unskilled workers), operators (skilled workers) and maintenance staff. For the first six months, labourers receive the statutory minimum social wage of LUF 267.48 per hour; thereafter, and until they complete one year's service, they earn LUF 301.64 per hour. All three categories of employee are covered by a pay grid that incorporates service periods of six months months to one year, one to two years, two to three years, and over three years. Overall, pay will increase annually by approximately 2%.

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