Employer group for transport and post returns to national tripartism
The Association of Employers of Transport, Post and Telecommunications left the National Union of Employers in April 2007. Due to insufficient membership, the association – renamed the Union of Employers of Transport, Post and Telecommunications – was excluded from the national tripartite dialogue. Efforts to increase membership were unsuccessful and the employer organisation has now decided to join the national-level Federation of Employers’ Associations.
Employers exclude themselves from national tripartism
In April 2007, the Association of Employers of Transport, Post and Telecommunications (Zväz zamestnávateľov dopravy, pôšt a telekomunikácií Slovenskej republiky, ZZDPT SR) left the national-level employer organisation the National Union of Employers (Republiková únia zamestnávateľov Slovenskej republiky, RÚZ SR). At the same time, ZZDPT SR was renamed as the Union of Employers of Transport, Post and Telecommunications (Únia dopravy, pôšt a telekomunikácií Slovenskej republiky, ÚDPT SR). The separation of ÚDPT SR from RÚZ SR had serious consequences for its participation in the national tripartite social dialogue. According to the statute of the tripartite Economic and Social Council (Hospodárska a sociálna rada, HSR), only employer organisations which represent at least 100,000 employees are entitled to participate in the HSR; the same regulation applies to trade unions. As ÚDPT SR did not comply with this criterion, it lost the right to participate in national tripartism.
Unsuccessful attempts to return to tripartism
In 2007, ÚDPT SR represented companies with almost 59,000 employees. The majority of these enterprises were state joint-stock companies. For example, about 34,000 employees were working in three railway companies: Railways of the Republic of Slovakia (Železnice Slovenskej republiky, ŽSR), Railway Company Slovakia (Železničná spoločnosť Slovensko, ZSSK) and Railway Cargo Company Slovakia (Železničná spoločnosť Cargo Slovakia, ZSSK Cargo). In addition, almost 16,000 employees worked in Slovak Post (Slovenská pošta). After ÚDPT SR left RÚZ SR, these state-owned companies were excluded from consultations on public policy issues in the national tripartite HSR.
Since April 2007, ÚDPT SR representatives have made several attempts to return to national tripartism. Although they succeeded in increasing the organisation’s membership to 85,000 employees in 2008, ÚDPT SR applications for admission to the HSR were refused because the employer organisation still did not comply with the membership criterion. In order to represent 100,000 employees, ÚDPT SR sought to cover all employers in the transport, post and telecommunications sectors. The employer organisation also intended to gain members from other economic sectors which were outside of the current ÚDPT SR domain. According to the ÚDPT SR representative Stanislav Sasinek, due to the specific operational conditions of the organisation, its members and the intensive development of their businesses, ÚDPT SR participation in national tripartism was not only a wish but a matter of urgency for its members (Daily newspaper SME, 2 April 2008, ‘Dopravcovia chcú ísť do tripartity’).
ÚDPT SR joins another employer organisation
Because the implementation of these expansionary objectives was not feasible in the short term, ÚDPT SR representatives concluded that membership of a national-level employer organisation would be a more effective way to return to national tripartism. ÚDPT SR thus became a member of the Federation of Employers’ Associations (Asociácia zamestnávateľských zväzov a združení Slovenskej republiky, AZZZ SR) on 18 June 2008. AZZZ SR mainly represents companies and organisations in the public sector. With the addition of ÚDPT SR, the number of employees covered by AZZZ SR has increased to about 220,000 workers. This figure has brought the AZZZ SR membership closer to that of RÚZ SR, which represents companies with more than 300,000 employees.
Moreover, the new affiliation places ÚDPT SR in a strong position within AZZZ SR. The President of ÚDPT SR, Milan Chúpek, who is also the Chair and Director General of ZSSK, and the employer organisation’s Vice-President, Igor Choma, who is also General Director of the National Motorway Company, have become vice-presidents of AZZZ SR.
Some commentators have suggested that the initiative of ÚDPT SR to return to the national tripartite dialogue could also have a political context. According to the statute of the tripartite HSR, the state is represented on the council independently of the social partners. However, the participation of state-owned companies represented by ÚDPT SR in national tripartism through membership of AZZZ SR might improve the position of the government in tripartite consultations. This could increase the power of the government to make alliances with employers in the tripartite social dialogue on certain problematic issues.
Ludovít Cziria, Institute for Labour and Family Research