Working conditions and social dialogue — Slovakia:

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 02 April 2008



About
Country:
Slovakia
Author:
Ludovt Cziria and Slvka Matulov
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

Individual factors of working conditions are usually subject to analysis on national or regional levels. However, the relationship between working conditions and social dialogue has not yet been analysed and, there are is no information available from surveys, researches and administrative reports. According to the representatives of trade unions and employers, working conditions are, besides wages, the most important issue of social dialogue, predominantly of the collective bargaining. Collective bargaining on working conditions takes place on sectoral and enterprise level as well. Working time, occupational safety and health, paid holiday, social benefits and gender issues are the most common topics negotiated there.

A. Mapping of existing research and administrative reports

1. Surveys

Present a summary of the survey(s), its findings and methodology, including any caveats about the research

In the period of 2000-7, several surveys were implemented in the Slovak Republic through which information on working conditions, mainly on working time and organisation of work adjustments, were collected, e.g. “Ženy 45 na trhu práce” (Women 45 in the labour market) www.ivo.sk ,”Diskriminácia a rovnosť príležitostí na trhu práce” (Discrimination and equal opportunity in the labour market) www.snslp.sk. However, those surveys did not investigate the primary relationships between the working conditions and the social dialogue. Those surveys were implemented together with issues like equal opportunities, reconciliation of work and family lives, or flexibility of labour law (linked to amendments in the Labour Code).

Some trade unions, e.g. Metal Trade Union Association (OZ KOVO), Commerce and Tourism Workers Trade Union Association (OZ pracovníkov obchodu a cestovného ruchu) realise single-shot ad hoc surveys (for internal use only) of working conditions in case when some problems occur in the collective bargaining. They serve only as operative information for the trade unionists and are not available.

Since 1992, Informačný systém o cene práce (Information System on Labour Cost) has been developed under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (Ministerstvo práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny Slovenskej republiky, MPSVR SR), Confederation of Trade Unions (Konfederácia odborových zväzov Slovenskej republiky, KOZ SR), Federation of Employers Associations (Asociácia zamestnávateľských zväzov a združení Slovenskej republiky, AZZZ SR) and National Union of Employers (Republiková únia zamestnávateľov Slovenskej republiky, RUZ SR). Informačný systém o pracovných podmienkach - ISPP (Information System on Working Conditions) is its subsystem.

Trexima Bratislava Ltd. is conducting ISPP sample surveys annually and provides statistical data regarding specified working conditions indicators. In total 2,544 employers and 555,733 employees were involved in the sample in 2006. Data are gathered via standardised statistical return and, they present actual information on wages and working conditions of employees. Social partners can use the information during social dialogue, e.g. in national/sectoral tripartism and during sectoral or enterprise level collective bargaining. ISPP system provides information, e.g. about:

Working time (its length, organisation, flexible forms, overtime)

Financial costs of OSH (working conditions and working environment, personal protective equipments, education in OSH and other costs)

Occupational accidents (number of them and costs for the employer).

Some information on working conditions is provided also by Labour Force Surveys (LFS) conducted by the Slovak Statistical Office (Štatistický úrad Slovenskej republiky, ŠÚ SR). Table 1 provides LFS information about changes in working time.

Table 1
Year 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Statutory weekly working time (hours) 40 40 40 40 40
Average number of hours worked out weekly by full time employees Men Women 40.8 41.1 40.5 40.4 40.9 39.8 40.6 41.1 40.0 40.9 41.4 40.2 40.9 41.3 39.9
Share of part time workers on the total number of employees (in%), of which Men Women 1.8 0.5 1.3 2.2 0.7 1.5 2.4 0.6 1.8 2.4 0.7 1.8 2.5 0.6 1.9
Share of employees regularly working at night (in%) Men Women 12.6 15.4 9.2 13.5 17.2 9.0 14.7 17.9 10.8 16.8 19.7 13.1 17.3 19.9 13.9
Share of employees working at home (in%) Men Women 2.6 2.1 3.3 2.7 2.1 3.5 3.5 2.7 4.4 4.0 3.3 5.0 4.2 3.9 4.5

Source: Labour Force Surveys of ŠÚ SR 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006.

Present, where relevant, the exact wording of the questions that address the relationship between working conditions and social dialogue

According to the information available, there was not implemented any survey aimed at assessment of the relationship between working conditions and social dialogue or the impact of the social dialogue upon working conditions in Slovakia.

Is there a predominance of cases or more information available in certain sectors? Are any particular issues emerging? Has any monitoring or evaluation been carried out?

The surveys mentioned in the first section (except of ad hoc surveys conducted by trade unions) were not sector oriented.

Surveys were usually implemented on the national level. However, some of them were implemented only in selected regions. The objective of those surveys was to find out how the employers implement the idea of reconciliation of work and family lives or what kind of conditions do the employers create for the enforcement of the equal opportunities principle in practice. The surveys characterise (statistical data with comments) the situation in the above mentioned areas in enterprises. They also include information on working conditions, e.g. on organisation of the working time (flexible working time, over time, part time work, work at home), provision of certain advantages for employed women-mothers. The surveys also provide information on views of respondents (employers and employees) on current and also wished legislation regulating the working time.

The surveys show that, in comparison with the other EU countries, mainly the utilisation of flexible forms of work organisation is not on the desired level. Gender stereotypes resulting from the overall socio-economic situation in the country are still surviving in working conditions.

2. Qualitative research

Present a summary of the research, its findings and methodology, including any caveats about the research

In the observed period 2000-2007, there were conducted several researches concerning working conditions, however, these researches did not observe the relationship and/or impact of the social dialogue upon working conditions. Researches on working conditions were implemented mainly in the framework of projects preferably oriented towards possibilities for reconciliation of work and family life and, in recently in the framework of IS EQUAL projects dealing with equal opportunity issue.

Special research projects, e. g.”Bezpečnostná úroveň pracovných podmienok zamestnancov v zariadeniach sociálnych služieb”(OHS level of working conditions of employees working in facilities providing social services)- see also SK0604019I, were conducted in the area of OSH. They dealt with working conditions from the point of view of safety and health aspects of the working environment in different types of working activities, i.e. their objective was to determine and analyse threats and risks at work and to identify possible measures for their elimination. However, these researches were not conducted in the context of social dialogue.

For the purpose of this report the following research projects conducted within the framework of IS EQUAL could be mentioned:

Slovensko na ceste k rodovej rovnosti (Slovakia on the Road to Gender Equality) will be accomplished in 2007. Its part “Rovnosť a zosúlaďovanie v kolektívnom vyjednávaní a zmluve“ (Equality and reconciliation in the collective bargaining and collective agreement) is conducted by the Institute of Sociology of the Slovak Academy of Science (Slovenská akadémia vied, SAV). Contextual analysis of gender aspects in the collective agreements as well as in the process of negotiations has been done there. Research showed that the topic of reconciliation of work and family lives belongs (besides the wages) to one of the key issues of collective bargaining in Slovakia and, suitable working conditions are an important means to improve it, e.g. suitable organisation of working time (flexible working time, part time work), work organisation, education and career promotion. Also qualitative characteristics of the collective agreements and, approach of negotiators to the issue of reconciliation and equal opportunities are available there.

“Pracovné podmienky ako determinanty rodovej nerovnosti práce“(Working conditions as determinants of the gender inequality at work) will be finished in 2008. The lead partner is the Institute for Labour and Family Research. This research is aimed at monitoring of working conditions and identification of options for their improvement, mainly implementation of gender equal opportunity in the labour market. It also deals with analysis of options based on OSH requirements. This research does not deal with the role of social dialogue in this sphere. Recommendations and measures for the implementation in practice will, however, concern also the area of the enterprise social policy and, regulation of the social dialogue. So, the implementation of the gender aspect in OSH would improve enforcement of equal opportunities in practice.

Is there a predominance of cases or more information available in certain sectors? Are any particular issues emerging? Has any monitoring or evaluation been carried out?

  • The above mentioned research projects are not oriented selectively to some sector/s. They generally observe working conditions on the national level. Working conditions are analysed preferably from the point of view of equal opportunities or reconciliation of work and family life. The impact of collective bargaining on this issue (e.g. by implementation of flexible working time and application of part-time work), and its improvement in the future was observed as well.
  • Observations from the project “Rovnosť a zosúlaďovanie v kolektívnom vyjednávaní a zmluve” showed that social partners, mainly trade unionists, consider themselves as important actors in reconciliation of work and family life. They have been active in this area for a long time and, they included into their working programme the agenda of gender equalities. However, they are still in learning stage how to implement the topic in day-to-day life of employees.

3. Administrative reports

Do reports from Labour Inspectorate / Health and Safety Authorities exist where the absence of dialogue between the two sides of industry on OHS matters is mentioned? (present the findings briefly)

The MPSVR SR, which is responsible also for the labour inspection, which is performed by the National Labour Inspection (Národný inšpektorát práce, NIP), annually submits the Government the report „Správa o stave ochrany práce a o činnosti orgánov štátnej správy v oblasti inšpekcie práce” (Report on actual situation in labour protection and on activities of the state administration bodies in the area of labour inspection). Reports are available at the web site http://www.government.gov.sk. NIP reports contain information on outcomes of labour inspections carried out in order to check the adherence to labour legislation, e.g. the Act No. 124/2006 on OHS, in practice. The Act 124/2006 also contains provisions (in accordance with the Directive 89/391/EHS) on consultation and participation of workers in discussion on all questions relating to OHS. NIP reports did not contain any critical information about absence of the social dialogue. However, according to the information available, it can be stated that the communication and cooperation of the employers with their employees in the OSH area is insufficient in small enterprises. According to the labour inspection reports, no representatives of employees for OSH have been nominated in small enterprises (up to approximately 10 employees) and, the cooperation between the employers and the employees is weak. Sometimes, it is due to lack of interest from the side of employees and their passivity caused by their fear to loose job.

The labour inspection is, in line with the currently valid legislation, also supervising adherence of obligations resulting form the collective agreements. This type of supervision has been implemented in Slovakia since 1 July 2001. The Act No. 311/2001 on labour code and the Act No.2/1991 on collective bargaining, as amended regulate the collective bargaining. The labour inspection in relation to collective bargaining does mean supervision over fulfilment of obligations agreed in the collective agreements and, not a control over the collective bargaining process as such. Table 2 provides information about some results of these supervisions carried out since 2001.

Table 2
Year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Number of checked subjects 7,635 9,869 10,686 11,611 16,606 10,955
Number of breaches of provisions concerning collective agreements 1 62 70 59 31 17

Is there predominance in a certain sector?

There are no relevant data available on dominance of a sector.

When so, mention the five most quoted sectors.

Not relevant.

The role of Labour Inspectorate in an advice / information role to get the social dialogue going whether establishment-specific or not.

The task of the labour inspection consultancy activities in the area of the social dialogue is to provide free of charge consultancy regarding basic professional information and advice on ways how to apply employers´ and employees´ rights/obligations concerning information and consultation (in line with the existing labour legislation) in the most efficient way.

Those consultancy services make only a small part of consultancy activities of the labour inspectorates, which provide consultancy mainly in order to enforce regulations in OSH and labour relations, e.g. through effective implementation of Labour Code and Act on occupational health and safety.

Is the gender aspect taken up in OHS, is it taken up in the OHS social dialogue, who puts it on the agenda and what is its outcome, if any?

Legal standards regulate the area of OSH. Most of them transpose the EU Directives and ILO Conventions. Legal standards for OSH are formulated gender neutrally, with exceptions as:

  • In the area of health protection of a pregnant woman or a mother with a child younger than 9 months or breast feeding woman – the employer has special obligations in provision of certain measures for those women in order to protect their health during pregnancy,
  • The gender aspect is explicitly expressed in several governmental decrees, issued in line with the Act No.126/2006 on public health care, e.g. for load handling, for occupational health regarding the physical, mental and sensorial work load, which determine recommended different limit values for women and men. Biological differences between genders are taken into account, too.

It is possible to enforce the gender approach in the OSH area according to the determined legal requirements, which are being observed by most of the employers. The task of the labour inspection is to check adherence to the legislation in the OSH area. In 2006, the labour inspection implemented specific checks in order to reveal the direct or indirect gender discrimination in labour relations and working conditions. In total 76,226 employees, of which 43,770 were women, worked in the checked entities. In 583 cases the violation of the valid legislation was detected.

Trade unions consider the supervision of the employees´ health protection as one of their most important activities. A system of trade union control has been established for this purpose. The KOZ SR has 32 professional trade union labour inspectors who provide such services and, since 2006 four regional inspectors provide consultancy services, too. These inspectors, whose activities are paid by the state, devote around 5 % of their inspection activities to social dialogue issues. According to the trade union representatives, their activities improve the level of OHS in enterprises (KOZ SR “Správa o činnosti odborovej kontroly nad BOZP za rok 2006” www.kozsr.sk) During collective bargaining on sectoral and enterprise level collective agreements, they guide the negotiators in order to achieve also in the area of OSH better conditions than determined by the legislation. “Pomôcka pre kolektívnych vyjednávačov v oblasti rovnosti príležitostí” (Handbook for negotiators in the area of equal opportunities) should help to implement the gender aspect in practice. It was elaborated by the advisory body of KOZ SR “Komisia rovnosti príležitostí pre ženy a mužov” (Commission for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men) in 2006.

The awareness of the enforcement of the gender aspect in OSH in practice (except of adherence to the legally determined measures friendly to women) as well as sensitivity of employers and employees to this issue, just started to develop. This process takes place in implementation of equal opportunities in practice and in the social dialogue as well.

Information about this topic for the general public is provided via mass media, organisation of workshops and dissemination of methodological guidelines. Institute for Labour and Family Research took the initiative in this area in cooperation with the National Labour Inspectorate and the Regional Office of Public Health in Banská Bystrica. The activities are realised in the framework of IS EQUAL research project “Pracovné podmienky ako determinanty rodovej nerovnosti práce“.

B. Actual examples of social dialogue influencing working conditions4. Examples of social dialogue

Please ask the social partners in your country for what they consider to be successful or unsuccessful examples of social dialogue influencing working conditions and the criteria on which they make these judgements. This section could also include social partner views on which case studies are representative of the situation in your country. The reporting for this section of the CAR should include:

The actors involved;

A description of the issue;

The level (national, sectoral, company, other). For example, there might be some evidence of sector-level experience transferring down successfully to company-level experience; and

The outcomes. If the intervention was a success, please list the success factors. If the intervention was not a success, please list the reasons or presumed reasons, why it was not a success.

The results of any relevant research findings.

Working conditions and wages are the most important issues of the social dialogue in Slovakia. Social dialogue on working conditions is allowed by application of employees’ right to information, consultation and collective bargaining, which is gauranted by the Labour Code. The procedures of the collective bargaining are regulated by Act No.2/1992 on collective bargaining.

Important changes took place in collective bargaining in 2002 when new labour legislation has been adopted. Act No. 311/2001 on Labour Code, Act No. 312/2001 on civil service and Act No. 313/2001 on public service laid down different rules for collective bargaining in private sector and in public sector. The Labour Code also regulates the right of trade unions to consult and control OHS issues. Act No.124/2006 regulates the occupational health and safety in practice. These acts provide minimum standards concerning working conditions. Trade unions can improve them in favour of the employees in collective agreements. Labour Code also specifies special working conditions for pregnant women, men and women taking care of young children and for adolescent employees.

Representatives of the employees (trade unions or works councils) are entitled to information from the employer, to control proper implementation of labour legislation in practice and, what is very important, they also have a right to propose measures to improve working conditions. According to the labour legislation, social partners in private sector can negotiate in collective bargaining on any issue on which they agree. The scope of collective bargaining in the public sector is limited to issues specified by Act on civil service and Act on public service, as amended.

Social dialogue about working conditions takes place on sectoral as well as local- enterprise level where it has more factual and detail outcomes. On the sectoral level it takes place in form of collective bargaining and, in some sectors also through sectoral tripartite/bipartite consultations. On the local level, social dialogue about working conditions takes place through information and consultation procedures between representatives of the employees (trade unions and works councils) and the management. In order to improve working conditions at workplaces, representatives of employees can formulate their view/position as well as propose measures during consultations. However, the most effective form of social dialogue on working conditions is the collective bargaining to which only the trade unions are entitled. The most common issues of the collective bargaining are:

  • the length of working time and rest periods
  • occupational safety and health
  • holidays and paid leaves
  • work organisation
  • working conditions of women, adolescent employees and employees taking care of young children till three years of age
  • education and training at work
  • gender equal opportunity and the ban to discrimination.

According to the available information, around 40-45% of the total number of employees in Slovakia is covered by sectoral and/or enterprise level collective agreements. In trade unions view, social dialogue contributes to improvement of working conditions of the employees.

Successful examples

There are several good examples concerning different indicators/factors of working conditions. Among the successful examples of collective bargaining on working conditions the following cases can be raised:

1. Reduction in working time is likely the most often mentioned successful example of social dialogue on working conditions. Table 3 sums up the average weekly working time agreed in sectoral collective agreements during the last five years.

Table 3
Year 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Statutory weekly working time (in hours) 40 40 40 40 40
. Average collectively agreed weekly working time (in hours) Single shift 38.93 38.48 38.73 38.59 38.8
Two shifts 37.97 37.36 35.45 35.63 35.7
Three shifts 37.79 36.88 32.94 32.90 33.5
Continuous shifts 38.41 36.72 34.15 34.23 33.6

Source: ISPP 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. Trexima Bratislava.

2. Important case also concerns collective bargaining on working conditions in public service. Since 2002, changes in labour legislation allowed to bargain collectively about working conditions of public servants also on the local level in organisations of public services. (In civil service organisations it was possible from 2003, however, in narrower scope). Collective bargaining in public service allowed, e.g. reduction in working time, increase of paid holiday and social benefits over the standards specified by the Labour Code.

Sectoral collective agreements concluded for public service for 2004-7, specify following issues of working conditions, which can be negotiated and even improved in local level collective agreements:

  • Regular working time 37.5 hours per week
  • Five or six weeks paid holidays
  • Amount of the redundancy pay
  • Employer’s contribution to the supplementary pension insurance and, to the social fund.

These sectoral collective agreements were concluded between the representatives of KOZ SR, Independent Christian Trade Unions of Slovakia (Nezávislé kresťanské odbory Slovenska, NKOS) and the representatives of the Slovak Government, regional governments and the Association of Cities and Villages of Slovakia (Združenie miest a obcí Slovenska, ZMOS).

3. Another successful example can be mentioned from the chemical industry. In an enterprise collective bargaining trade unions succeeded in negotiations and in the collective agreement concluded implementation of:

  • Proper model for scheduling the shift work in continuous production
  • Proper night work organisation, including application of appropriate rest periods
  • Targeted programme for professional education and training of the employees
  • Medical services provided for the employees, e.g. medical checks for women when working at night, provision of meal.

The collective agreement was concluded by local trade union organisation of Trade Union Association Chémia and the enterprise management.

Unsuccessful examples

According to the trade unions, in general there exist few unsuccessful examples of collective bargaining on working conditions. Trade union negotiators are well familiar with the actual situation in enterprises where they operate and, they do not demand unrealistic goals when negotiating with the management representatives. In the case of unsuccessful negotiation trade union representatives raise the issue again in the next negotiation round and, try to reach an agreement on the issue by step-by-step negotiations.

According to the representatives of SOZ verejnej správy, sectoral collective bargaining in civil service can be, however, mentioned as an unsuccessful example of collective bargaining on working conditions. Local level collective bargaining in civil service organisations has more limited scope in comparison with the collective bargaining in public service. In civil service organisations, it is not possible to negotiate, e.g. on reduction in working time, extension of paid holiday, social benefits. This is caused, e.g. by financial resources for the state administration, which are limited by the state budget, by keeping a uniform working time and paid holidays of civil servants.

5. Social partner views

Please ask the social partners in your country for their general views on the type, nature and quality of the social dialogue in your country in terms of its influence on working conditions. This could include, for example, their assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the social dialogue, as it is organised in your country, as a tool for improving working conditions. Please report who you have contacted and in what form. The level of organisation (confederation, federation) that is relevant may differ between countries, although it is most likely that the organisation to be contacted will be a peak organisation.

According to the representatives of the trade unions and employers organisations, social dialogue about working conditions is realised in practice in line with the valid labour legislation, however, in different quality. The quality of the social dialogue in practice depends on available capacities (personal, financial, organisational) as well as competencies and seriousness of individual social partners. The quality of the social dialogue is also influenced by the nature of working conditions in the respective sector and enterprise. The technology in some sectors/enterprises impacts working conditions more than in some others. Working conditions are usually more stabile and predictable, e.g. in manufacturing industry than in agriculture or construction, where, e.g. the working time and forms of its organisation are rather influenced by weather and seasonal works. In these sectors, the trade unions pay more attention not only to the length of working time but also to rest periods provided by employer to the employees. In chemical industry and in some other manufacturing industries, e.g. in automotive industry, also flow production and hindered working conditions play important role. Regarding to this, also the scope of social dialogue about working conditions differs. In manufacturing industry and service sector (private as well as public) the social dialogue focuses mainly to the length of working time and forms of its organisation. While in some other sectors, like in chemical companies, social dialogue about working conditions pays particular attention to collective bargaining on occupational safety and health issues.

According to the representatives of trade unions, besides the technology, the economic situation of the employer (e.g. available financial resources) has impact on social dialogue about the improvement of working conditions of its employees. The social dialogue is usually less effective in small and medium size enterprises (with less than 250 employees) than in big companies. More effective social dialogue about working conditions takes place in enterprises where the management considers the social dialogue with the employees as an organic part of human resource management. According to the available information from trade unions, social dialogue about including working conditions is more effective in foreign companies, especially in those of German origin, operating in Slovakia, than in many domestic companies. In many foreign companies, mainly in those of which origin is in EU15 countries, social dialogue has usually longer tradition. The management in these companies considers social dialogue as effective tool for communication with employee representatives as well as for solving potential labour disputes. In many of these companies, social dialogue became part of the company culture as well.

According to the employers’ representatives, Slovak labour legislation provides proper framework for forming a decent working conditions of employees. The employers try to implement working conditions standards which are laid down by labour legislation and, where it is possible even to improve them. (According to the trade unionist, it is, however, difficult to agree with the management on working conditions, which are much better than those specified by these minimum standards). The implementation of higher standards usually requires higher financial resources, which the employers try to push down as far as possible. The high competitive business environment requires them to do so. The size of the employer, its organisational culture and the attitude of the management to the social dialogue has influence on social dialogue about working conditions, too.

Usual scope in practice

In the view of both social partners, social dialogue about working conditions focuses mainly on:

  • Reduction in working time
  • Extension of paid holiday
  • Occupational safety and health
  • Social benefits for the employees.

Strengths

According to the social partners’ representatives, the strengths of social dialogue about working conditions can be summed up as follows:

  • Social dialogue allows flexible response to actual problems at workplaces and solving them in practice
  • Trade unions have their own experts for OSH issues at the workshop level
  • An effective informal social dialogue exists between trade unions and management about working conditions in enterprises in which the social dialogue has a long-term tradition.

Weaknesses

Employers’ representatives did not identify any significant weakness in social dialogue on working conditions - working conditions above the standards set by labour legislation are often agreed upon in collective agreements. Trade unions representatives specified following weaknesses of the social dialogue:

  • Insufficient professional qualification and skill as well as readiness of social partners to negotiate fairly about working conditions
  • Dominance of the employers in social dialogue who have better professional capacities regarding working condition issues
  • Collective agreements are often concluded on rather general level without specification of duties of the employer
  • Low readiness of some employers to social dialogue with representatives of trade unions.

Used information sources:

Information on social dialogue on working conditions were gained from available documents and, through interviews conducted with representatives of central and sectoral employers and trade unions organisations: names of interviewees available upon request.

Ludovít Cziria and Slávka Matulová, Institute for Labour and Family Research

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