Collective bargaining in 2002 examined

Download article in original language : PL0308104NPL.DOC

According to figures issued by Poland's State Labour Inspection in mid-2003, 310 new single-establishment collective agreements were registered in 2002, covering some 118,000 employees (most Polish collective bargaining occurs at single-employer level). The agreements' provisions primarily covered remuneration, working time and leave. Terms more favourable to employees than the legal minima are becoming less frequent in collective agreements, while there is an increasing tendency for the parties to agreements to suspend application of all or some of their provisions.

Collective agreements covering a single employing entity ('single-establishment' agreements) continue to be the predominant form of collective bargaining in Poland, with collective agreements covering more than one employing entity ('multi-establishment' agreements) remaining rare (PL0210108F). According to the most recent data from the Ministry of the Economy, Labour, and Social Policy (Ministerstwo Gospodarki, Pracy i Polityki Społecznej, MGPiPS), issued in mid-2003, a total of 157 multi-establishment collective agreements have so far been registered in Poland since 1995, along with 137 additional amending protocols. By contrast, between 1995 and late 2002 no fewer than 12,094 single-establishment agreements were registered, with 34,100 additional protocols.

According to reports collated by the State Labour Inspection (Państwowa Inspekcja Pracy, PIP), 310 new single-establishment collective agreements were registered in 2002, covering 117,653 workers - see the table below. Almost half of the new agreements were in the industrial processing sector - 149 agreements, covering a total of 62,476 employees. The number of new additional protocols to single-establishment agreements, at over 2,400, was somewhat higher than in 2001. The majority (195) of single-establishment agreements signed in 2002 followed the expiry of collective agreements previously in force, while the remainder (115 agreements) were entirely new agreements concluded where none had previously been in force. There has been an appreciable drop in the number of single-establishment agreements incorporating 'illegal' provisions, with only 23% found to contain such clauses in 2002, compared with 57% in 2001. The same tendency was observed in the case of additional protocols - with 6% containing illegal provisions in 2002, compared with 13% in 2001.

New single-establishment collective agreements and additional protocols (applications to register, registrations and refusals), 2002
Applications for registration of: 3,459
collective agreements 382
additional protocols 3,077
Registered: 2,742
collective agreements 310
additional protocols 2,432
Registration refused: 64
collective agreements 10
additional protocols 54

Source: Sprawozdanie z działalności PIP za 2002r; appendix no 26.

The subject matter addressed in the single-establishment collective agreements examined by PIP concerned primarily:

  • remuneration - eg components of the remuneration package and their value, principles governing the extension of assorted payments and bonuses and retirement/disability severance;
  • employment conditions and especially working time - eg the rules for various working time systems, schedules, and settlement periods; and
  • recreational leave.

Issues relating to the fostering of a healthy and safe working environment and to cooperation with trade union organisations received less attention in the collective agreements signed in 2002 than in 2001. A frequent feature of collective agreements was provisions concerning in-house social benefits funds - most such provisions, however, provided for reduction of the fund's commitments or for its total abolition.

Collective agreements including provisions more favourable to employees than those stipulated in labour legislation are on the wane. Among the agreements examined by PIP, the most frequent more favourable provisions (98 instances) related to a shorter working week, while some employees benefited from more favourable terms governing pay for night work (79), overtime, and as work on Sundays and holidays (37 cases each). This tendency has been accompanied by an increased willingness among the parties to collective agreements to suspend their application in whole or in part. There were 239 agreements to this effect in 2002, compared with 152 in 2001. Most of the suspended provisions were ones which entailed direct financial burdens for the employers, such as various additional payments, bonuses, severance payments, sickness benefits, bonuses for long-serving employees, reimbursement of commuting costs and payments from the in-house social benefits fund.

With regard to employers’ abidance by the provisions of collective agreements, PIP inspections carried out in 2002 (covering 133 entities employing a total of 78,352 employees) pointed to an upsurge in breaches of agreements, especially as regards their provisions on working time (improprieties in this respect were discovered at 18% of the employers inspected). Late or incomplete payment of wages, and even absence of payment, continued at the high level of 50% of employers inspected (PL0210105N). Pay arrears owed by the employers inspected to their employees stood at an estimated PLN 6.5 million in 2002. There is also an increasing propensity among employers to amend the provisions of collective agreements without abiding by the additional protocol procedure called for by the law or, alternatively, without filing such protocols for official registration (20% of employers examined) or imposing terms less favourable to employees without formally terminating the terms and conditions in force (15%).

Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Eurofound welcomes feedback and updates on this regulation

Add new comment