The programme of LIGA Trade Unions, coming into effect from 2009, has been developed on the basis of the past few years’ experiences and in view of the expected changes in the following years. The programme defines the goals of our activities in the area of national interest representation and the main directions of the confederation’s trade union policy.
GOALS AND MAIN TASKS TO BE IMPLEMENTED IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THEM
LIGA Trade Unions demand from the Parliament and government in power at any time that Hungary have the same living conditions as those characteristic of developed European countries.
We demand secure livelihoods and growing wages and we want the enforcement of the rights entitling everybody to have a life without fears and where they don’t feel vulnerable.
The main responsibility of LIGA Trade Unions is to develop the living and working conditions, as well as the level of social safety of employees both in the business sphere and public sector. Our goals are centred around improving the employees’ income situation, increasing the level of employment stability and of working conditions in the widest possible sense, enhancing the laws and regulations concerning the world of labour, as well as establishing, strengthening and continually developing the system of labour relations prevailing in modern democracies. In order to achieve this, it is our duty to demonstrate and represent employees’ interests in an authentic way.
It is the aim of LIGA Trade Unions to achieve, as an independent trade union confederation, the emergence of a more positive attitude towards trade unions in Hungary, a noticeably better level of organisation and a stronger influence of workers on socio-economic processes. To be able to accomplish this, as a confederation present in both the business sphere and the public sector, the organisation considers its basic duty to organise the employees in these two spheres.
LIGA Trade Unions are willing to realise their most important goals independently of political parties, as an autonomous public actor. They support the strengthening of the cooperation between the trade unions, on the basis of solidarity and equality. In order to achieve its goals, the confederation aims to build a predictable partnership with the government and employers’ organisations. While representing the employees’ interests, it consults parliamentary parties, civil organisations, and a wide range of social groups.
LIGA would like Hungary to become the most dynamically developing and competitive country in the region, where a sustainable, knowledge-based economy with a high growth potential is accompanied by a high level of employment. We wish to use the resources generated by the expanding economy to strengthen social integration and improve the life chances of social groups stricken by poverty and exclusion.
LIGA finds the collaboration of the Hungarian trade unions indispensable in ensuring that in the period of catching up with developed countries we are powerful enough both in the areas of resources and of organising capacity to exercise influence.
All the activities of the confederation, from general trade union policy and internal operation to working on international relations, must be carried out in a way that serves its goals.
1. Representing, enforcing and protecting employees’ interests
In order to realise the most important goals, LIGA assumes a role in shaping economic and social policy and developing democracy, as all that has a basic impact on the general feelings of the employees and defines their living conditions and life situation.
1.1. The main directions of influencing economic policy
According to LIGA Trade Unions, it is a basic requirement that in the course of furthering European integration, besides economic convergence, an equal emphasis should be put on catching up in the social dimension. We denounce the efforts aiming at cutting the social achievements and employees’ rights obtained through hard work, on the basis of the demands of global economy.
LIGA Trade Unions think that a radical change is needed in the economic policy. The opportunities provided by the economic policy since the 1989 transition have run out. The economic crisis sweeping through the world has proven that economic policies based on the neoliberal economic philosophy resulted in failures. In Hungary the foreign capital involvement built one-sidedly on the country’s ability to attract capital and based solely on market coordination created a distorted economic structure, chronic underemployment, and a subordinated and vulnerable position in the European economic region. The state has contributed by billions of forints to the dominant position of multinational companies, while our most important traditional sectors have declined and become incapable of developing and providing more jobs.
We must get rid of the idea that “the market will solve everything”, and put a new economic strategy in its place. We need national programmes serving Hungarian society’s interests, both in general and in the different sectors. The basis for these programmes should be the natural features of the country (like the excellent climate, the soil, the rich water resources), as well as the other resources at hand (like the skilled labour force and the still existing but unexploited research and academic capacity). By developing and implementing sectoral policies, the government could help establish in some areas of the country – for example in irrigation-based agriculture and up-to-date food industry belonging to the same product chain, in biotechnology, in logistical services etc – world class conditions for production and distribution, exploiting the relative advantages. State funds, including EU funds must be used for the implementation of these concrete goals. These programmes should be submitted to a broad social consultation, where LIGA wants to participate.
LIGA Trade Unions warn that we should be cautious about the introduction of the euro. The premature introduction of the euro might lead to serious mid-term economic problems. The euro should only be introduced if the county is put on a path of sustainable growth, meets the convergence criteria, and, as a result a stable equilibrium exchange rate is established. The level of this should be such that it doesn’t devalue employee wages and savings. The timing of the introduction of the euro requires a broad professional and social consensus, and LIGA Trade Unions wish to play an emphatic role in the process.
1.2. Employees’ income conditions
According to the view of LIGA Trade Unions, Hungarian wages lag seriously behind compared to the country’s level of economic development. As a result of the austerity measures, and the stagnation and subsequent drop in economic output, the past few years caused a high degree of fluctuation, and in general a reduction in real wages. It is LIGA Trade Unions’ aim that a wage situation justified by the performance of the economy should be established, where the need to increase employment is also taken into consideration.
When making efforts to improve employees’ income conditions, LIGA Trade Unions examines the following factors and how they are related:
- social benefits.
1.2.1. About the wages
If we consider their skills and qualifications, and their working culture, the work carried out by Hungarian employees is undervalued. It is impossible to improve the competitiveness of the national economy if the present level of wages is sustained. The income policy must find the right balance between employees’ justifiable demands and the requirements of economic development. Keeping the wages at a low level is economically ungrounded, it serves neither the employees’ nor the employers’ interests and it doesn’t even serve the interest of any government in power concerned with the future.
We demand in the name of Hungarian wage-earning and salaried employees that wages in Hungary too provide an improving livelihood, and gradually and within a reasonable time reach the level of the wages in the developed European countries.
With the wages catching up, the competitiveness of the Hungarian economy should in the future be based on human capabilities and knowledge, instead of low wages.
We demand a government attitude that makes it clear, for all players in the economy, that it is the government’s goal in Hungary to achieve that the compensation for the work carried out guarantees a decent livelihood for the workers and their family members.
Thus we expect every government in power to help realise the convergence of wages
- directly as a negotiating partner in defining the national minimum wage and the guaranteed wage minimum,
- through indirect means in their recommendations for the average wage increase in the business sphere, and through direct means in the wage negotiations of the public sector,
- with its tax policy,
- by financially recognising those working in public service,
- by legally ensuring social benefits,
- by making sectoral and professional statistics and information about the state of the national economy available,
- by improving the legal conditions that ensure free wage bargaining and by concluding and spreading sectoral wage agreements,
- and last but not least by strengthening the legal protection of trade union activities.
LIGA Trade Unions think that the decisions concerning wages can be implemented primarily by ensuring free wage bargaining based on the recommendations of the National Council for the Reconciliation of Interests and the National Council for the Reconciliation of Interests in the Public Services, and also meeting the above mentioned requirements. LIGA Trade Unions remain strongly committed to tripartite agreements.
Minimum wage and guaranteed wage minimum
When considering the wage situation in Hungary, LIGA Trade Unions think that the institutions of minimum wage and of guaranteed wage minimum for skilled workers are of primary importance. LIGA strongly rejects any attempts at ending them. In the coming period, the economic conditions, employees’ costs of living and the level of average wages should be taken into consideration when the minimum wage and the guaranteed wage minimum based on it are determined. A further increase in the gap between the minimum wage and the average wage, or a gradual deviation from the costs of living is unacceptable.
In connection with this, LIGA Trade Unions demand that Article 4 of the European Social Charter on fair remuneration of work is ratified.
Sectoral wages in the business sphere
LIGA supports and urges sectoral level wage agreements based on minimal tariffs.
Wages in the public service
LIGA Trade Unions denounce all prejudiced opinions suggesting that the whole public sector is responsible for the country’s difficult economic situation. This position has served as an excuse to gradually cut public services. According to our position, the quality of public services is not only a decisive element in employees’ and citizens’ quality of life, but it also enhances economic development. Thus there should be no further restrictions in this area.
A balanced relationship should be established and maintained between the wages of public employees and those in the private sector.
LIGA Trade Unions strongly demand the improvement of employees’ wage situation in the public sector. Wages in the public sector shouldn’t deviate from those in the business sphere; they must adjust to economic growth and to the important role of public services in society. The introduction of career path models providing security and transparency is necessary in the whole of the public sector.
LIGA demands legal guarantees to maintain the real value of the wages in the public sector. The resources to cover this should come from the state budget.
For those who risk their life while delivering public services, the wages must be in proportion with the risks. A proper motivation should be provided by the career path model in order to keep employees in the service in this career. If they die while performing their duties, the state should have more responsibility in providing a fair benefit for those left behind by them.
1.2.2. About personal income taxes and wage contributions
The main function of the system of taxes and contributions is to cover government expenses. Deductions must be adjusted to the level of public services expected from the state. We reject the approach where the system of taxes and contributions is given a special and independent role in the economic policy to enhance competitiveness.
In the case of personal income taxes
- the system of taxes must mean that burden sharing is based on social justice, and proportionate to income and assets,
- in personal income tax we reject flat tax and think that in the case of higher income, progressive tax is needed,
- the tax allowance of the most important social benefits and/or those benefits in kind that are or of special significance from a social or healthcare aspect – meal vouchers for employees, holiday vouchers, voluntary funds allowances, reimbursement of travel to work, education allowance – should be restored.
It must be guaranteed that contributions paid by workers are used according to the grounds on which they are collected. This process should be transparent and contributors should be able to monitor it.
1.2.3. About social transfers and benefits
LIGA Trade Unions consider the institutions of social security highly important for employees’ and citizens’ quality of life. Social policy, by generating a skilled and healthy workforce living in secure conditions, shouldn’t hinder but should promote economic development and competitiveness. We think that the systemic cutbacks in the past years undermine the progress of Hungary.
LIGA Trade Unions find it necessary that the institutions ensuring social security are developed in a legally guaranteed way.
It is LIGA Trade Unions’ demand that in Hungary:
- the Constitution should declare citizens’ right to social security,
- the law should define minimum social standards (as the percentage of the minimum wage of any given time),
- the different forms of social transfers should operate in a coordinated way and complimenting one another,
- local governments should be able to perform their duties in the area of social services.
LIGA Trade Unions are concerned about the great number of those who became losers inthe transition process and who are the most poverty-stricken: the unemployed, women, young career beginners, people with disabilities or permanent health impairment, families with – especially three or more – children and older people, especially those living alone. The situation of the Roma people living in Hungary is critical; the unemployment rate among the Roma is three times above the average. Tackling these critical life situations is outside the realm of the possibilities of social policy in the narrow sense. We need coordinated measures in economic and social policy, including real improvement in the employment situation, the coordination of the employment services and the social welfare system, using the EU funds given to the target groups effectively and transparently, ensuring the accessibility of public services, such as health care, education, public transport, etc.
LIGA supports and encourages the activities of organisations of a non-profit nature, the initiatives of citizens and employees (e.g. self-administered funds, organisations providing social care).
LIGA demands coordinated measures in order to stop negative demographic tendencies. Within the social welfare system, LIGA considers it highly important to develop the family support system. Maintaining and increasing the real value of the family allowance must become the first priority.
Moreover, LIGA Trade Unions also urge the provision of children’s institutions to be improved, their quality to be raised and their fees to be reduced in compliance with the family support policy, contributing to easing families’ burden and increasing employment.
Companies’ social transfers have mainly been abolished during the economic transformation. This was the area where employees have suffered the greatest loss. In order to counteract this, in kind benefits for employees must be given a significant role in collective agreements. Maintaining and increasing the real value of benefits is a priority.
1.3. Employment policy, employment security
Underemployment, which has become a permanent issue since the transition, is one of the reasons behind the economic and social problems, and also one of their consequences. In this area we significantly lag behind both the more developed EU member states and countries with a similar history. According to LIGA Trade Unions’ position, without real improvement in the field of employment, Hungary is doomed to further stagnation and even more lagging development. Thus economic and social policy should focus on increasing the employment rate. Economic strategies in the future should be built on the utilisation of unused labour force, especially in the case of unskilled people, or those with a lower level of education, where we can see the greatest deficiency in this respect.
The Hungarian employment policy built on the Community employment strategy must include the following:
- The opportunity of a new start for unemployed young people and unemployed adults. Special emphasis must be put on tackling employment problems stemming from regional differences and helping the reintegration of the long-term unemployed. Agreements should be concluded with the involvement of the social partners, and programs should be set up to provide these people with the opportunities to improve their employability, to gain experiences, to participate in lifelong learning, and to have a new start.
- Stability of the enterprises. In this area employment must be improved by implementing further measures and reducing the operational, tax and administrative burdens hitting small and medium enterprises.
- Improving adaptability. In order to achieve this goal, the government should enter into agreements and encourage agreements to be concluded between the social partners about ways of employment and working that – with the special characteristics of livelihood in Hungary and related opportunities taken into consideration – can increase the level of employment.
The conditions for a more widespread use of atypical forms of employment in Hungary have not yet been created, as neither employers nor employees have the proper level of interest. These solutions cannot be supported by the trade unions without the necessary conditions and guarantee elements provided, since they could lead to abuse or become means of cutting wages.
- Ensuring equality. When somebody is employed in accordance with the demands of the labour market, the idea that there should be no distinction on the basis of race, gender or age must be implemented in practice. LIGA Trade Unions help that the action against discrimination should also be reflected in collective agreements, and the confederation develops recommendations for this.
- To promote social integration, those inactive persons who are unable to find a job in the business sector, but still want to work, should be offered public employment.
The employment rate of women must be improved, while work and family life should also be reconciled. For women (and men) providing care for dependent family members, leaving the labour market and returning to it should be made an automatic process and a general practice.
Trainings helping reintegration to the labour market should be launched for those working for the armed and police forces, when they leave the organisations without having acquired pension rights, but having special qualifications.
Agriculture can be called “the biggest loser” in the changes following the transition and EU accession. Its decline is one of the causes behind the large-scale unemployment among the rural population, especially people with low levels of qualification. These groups should be integrated into the world of work through special attention paid to agriculture, rural development, regional development aiming at evening out regional differences, and delivering special training and supporting programmes.
Full employment is a major priority among the European Union’s employment policy aims. The means and methods to realise this aim must continuously be developed in Hungary as well. In order to achieve full employment, LIGA Trade Unions urge a gradual reduction of working time.
LIGA Trade Unions declare their opinion that any government in power should make employment policy considerations a priority when developing its economic policy, as well as the sectoral and regional economic policies based on it. The governments should also ensure that relevant impact assessments on employment policy are produced before new laws and regulations are introduced or measures are taken.
LIGA Trade Unions support the implementation of the principle of the free movement of labour, one of the basic principles of the European Union. We denounce the discriminatory procedures against Hungarian employees in some member states and fight with our own means to stop them. LIGA emphasises the necessity of monitoring the Hungarian labour market. If there are disturbances in the market or disruptions in the public services, the state must immediately act to put an end to them, choosing the appropriate means.
The system of unemployment benefits has gradually become stricter in the past decade. Today it doesn’t have the function based on the insurance principle, and doesn’t provide those who have lost their jobs with an acceptable level of service to maintain a secure standard of living and make up for their costs before they find a new job. LIGA Trade Unions fight for the introduction of benefits that are proportionate to the wages earned and the contributions paid earlier, at least in the first phase of being unemployed.
1.4. Health and safety at work, protection of the workers
After the turmoil of the transformation of the economy, the requirements to ensure health protection at the workplace and risk-free working conditions have sadly lost their significance. We must work more actively than so far in the area of safety at work and of creating the workplace environment. It is the interest of all employees that the implementation of the National Programme of Safety and Health at Work should continue. We must act in the interest of the whole society against the cases of environmental pollution we have had to bear in the past decade, the technologies related to dangerous substances and products damaging our health.
- During the past decade several companies applying technologies with health-damaging effects, with a high risk of accidents and using dangerous substances have come to Hungary. LIGA Trade Unions denounce all efficiency measures implemented with the aim of increasing profits that imply an increased health and safety risk. All employers must be required to have a Health and Safety Regulation and a workplace safety organisation, and this must be strictly monitored. The number of staff of this body should ensure carrying out all tasks related to health and safety.
- The transposition and application of EU norms must be immediately implemented in practice, through a high degree of commitment and cooperation based on the moral responsibility of those participating in tripartite interest reconciliation.
- Using dangerous equipment, as well as technologies and processes damaging people’s health and the environment in Hungary should be prevented when giving companies permission to carry out their activities. We must get rid of the ideas – based on false arguments, like improving employment, providing income opportunity etc. – which allow working at workplaces with health and environmental hazards.
- Violation of laws and norms must be prevented and deterred by severe, consistent and effective monitoring.
The following must be realised in practice at the workplaces:
- healthy employees should work at safe and healthy workplaces,
- employers and employees should cooperate in order to ensure healthy working conditions; a relationship based on partnership should be established between the economic leadership and employees’ health and safety organisations.
LIGA Trade Unions demand that in the area of the work of the armed forces and police workers, constitutional improprieties during work and at the workplaces, also criticised by the ombudsmen, should be ended with the help of resources from the central budget. Their workplaces and places of employment should comply with EU norms and the Health and Safety at Work Act.
1.5. Social security
LIGA Trade Unions consider the system of social pension and health insurance the basic institution to provide social safety. Our efforts in the area of social security are focussed on ensuring that the services of the transfer systems are of a European standard and continually developed. The representatives of contribution payers must be endowed with real supervisory rights over the social security funds, including the Labour Market Fund as part of the system.
1.5.1. In the area of pension insurance:
It must be achieved that pension insurance – with state liability – ensures safe conditions, which are transparent for the contribution payers and can be calculated in the long run, and also provides services of the appropriate level.
The government policy of the past decade has moved in a direction opposite to these goals. Despite all our efforts, the changes implemented in the regulations of the pension system are highly disadvantageous for the employees. These changes include raising the pension age at a forced pace, disadvantageous new regulations on the computation and indexing of pensions, withdrawing the 13th month’s pensions, etc. The changes happened without in-depth expert analyses, impact assessments, or the necessary public consensus, so they have further impaired employees’ attitude to the pension scheme.
LIGA Trade Unions demand the transformation of the pension scheme to be reviewed. All the elements of the system, including the mandatory private pension fund system, should be assessed within the framework of a comprehensive analysis. According to our position, the changes couldn’t produce a sustainable system meeting the justifiable demands of citizens. Thus the comprehensive reform of the pension system is still ahead of us.
In the course of this, our aim is to establish a stable pension scheme, sustainable on the long run, operated with state guarantees and reconciling the conditions determined by the economic circumstances, the employment situation and the demographic processes. Its services must provide, on the basis of the principle of solidarity, every pensioner with at least a basic level of livelihood, and ensure, on the basis of the principle of insurance, that the level of pension is appropriate to the wages earned by the pensioners in their whole life.
LIGA Trade Unions suggest the introduction of universal pensions, which every citizen is entitled to.
We suggest introducing the flexible pension age. The date of retirement must be determined in view of a person’s age and their length of employment. The length of employment must include reductions related to early retirement and also reductions justified for those working in shifts.
LIGA Trade Unions support the reintroduction of the benefits of voluntary mutual pension funds operating besides the compulsory state pension scheme. In the public sector, conditions and opportunities allowing the employers to financially contribute to their employees’ membership in voluntary pension funds must be created.
In the transformation of the early retirement pension scheme, only the first steps have been taken. LIGA Trade Unions think that the appropriate way to fight against the damaging effects of haphazard jobs is prevention and complying with and developing the rules of safety and health at the workplace. Early retirement should be applied in those jobs where health damaging effects cannot be prevented. By using the contribution – paid by the employers – allowing early retirement, the issue of financing early retirement pensions is solved. In order for the final system to be developed, we demand that the government immediately have the necessary work and analyses carried out by experts.
It is unacceptable for us that until setting up the final system, there is no possibility to register new jobs in the registry of jobs involving early retirement, in spite of the justifiable demands of employees. We want to use all possible means to help create this possibility.
We want to sustain the opportunity of early retirement as a means of employment policy in the long run as well. According to our position – also supported by the employers – this opportunity is a contract between two players in the world of work, where the state should have a neutral attitude, and must ensure the legal framework for its application.
LIGA trade Unions demand Article 12 of the European Social Charter on The right to social security to be gradually ratified.
It has become obvious for LIGA Trade Unions that the healthcare reform can’t be further postponed. Considering the critical state of health of the Hungarian people, very fast, efficient and complex measures are needed in all the areas of health care.
In the course of transforming healthcare, the measures taken so far have aimed at dealing with daily problems. They avoided general changes and the related tensions. There are no signs of improvement in the health situation of people or in the health care services provided for them and, at the same time, no savings have been generated either.
LIGA supports the preparation of a package which:
- aims to preserve health and prevent illnesses,
- serves the improvement of people’s the general state of health,
- defines the content of the basic services and guarantees them for everybody,
- solves the issue of financing the institutions,
- allows appropriate financial respect for healthcare employees and prevents further migration,
- reviews the system of financing healthcare institutions and allows it to be adapted to the actual economic-financial situation.
1.7. Public education
The issue of education is closely related to employment in Hungary. In the labour market, the proportion of those without qualifications among the long-term unemployed is significantly high.
The financial and moral respect for Hungarian public education must be increased. It is indispensable for creating a knowledge based society that the budget of any government in power shouldn’t tackle education on a residual basis, but as a high priority.
The system must be characterised more and more by competence-based education and the school system must be standardised by eliminating the existing differences. Efforts must be made to help laggng pupils to catch up, by strongly supporting professional and pedagogical programmes
The transformation of the vocational educational training system has begun in the past few years. The aim is to provide education and trainings that meet the demands of the labour market and the changing economy. The integration implemented in vocational education and training, which was primarily forced by financing issues, must be evaluated as soon as possible, and the necessary corrections must be made. The financial conditions of practical training must be improved and enterprises should once again be made interested in this field.
The number of those participating in vocational education and training must be increased both in absolute and relative terms.
In retraining and in adult education the efficiency of state supervision should be increased and the present trainings of a dubious standard, which don’t help people find employment must be abandoned. At the same time, a diverse training system promoting labour market adaptability should be sustained in the future as well.
The fragmentation of the higher education system and its quantity-based way of functioning must be corrected as soon as possible. At Master’s level, the real driving force for higher education as a whole must be generated by a significant quality improvement and a strong focus on quality parameters.
1.8. In the area of public utilities
The state is responsible for the provision of high quality public utility services independently of the form of ownership of the given network or operator. Public utility services must
- meet the general standards applied in the EU concerning the level of the services and the specific conditions of quantity, quality, frequency etc.,
- meet the strictest safety and reliability requirements,
- in order to realise equality objectives, all citizens must be given access without any discrimination,
- when setting the prices for the services, a key element taken into consideration must be how much burden consumers can bear and how much they are able to pay.
Taking the above principles into consideration and going further, LIGA Trade Unions request a comprehensive energy policy in Hungary, agreed on by all the stakeholders. In order to ensure safe energy supply, energy production in the Hungarian energy base must have priority, and our excessive dependence on gas, even compared to European standards, must be decreased in order to reduce consumers’ risks. The support given to environment-friendly and CO2 -free technologies should be in harmony with the programme against global warming, as well as with job creation.
1.9. Labour relations, laws concerning the world of work, legal regulations
In order to achieve the widest possible social consensus, LIGA Trade Unions demand all issues concerning employees to be discussed in a meaningful way at the different fora of interest reconciliation.
Significant progress is needed in the area of collective labour law. In the field of cooperation between the social partners, a political practice which can serve as a good example for cooperation also at the workplaces.
LIGA supports the role of negotiating fora at sectoral level, wage tariff agreements and sectoral collective agreements. They reject the employers’ practice which evades the legal obligations of sectoral collective agreements by outsourcing. We demand increased labour inspection in order for the sectoral collective agreements to be implemented by all concerned enterprises.
As for the situation of the armed and police forces, it must be achieved that workers and public employees in the forces get back their right to strike, following European examples.
We demand professional staff doing special public service (Act of 1996 on public service) to be restricted in their civil rights only to the extent that is absolutely necessary.
In the opinion of LIGA Trade Unions, the first priority should be the issue of employment security and protecting employees’ interests in general. It is also indispensable that labour law regulations – through employment relationships – should, as much as possible, help job creation. We also demand that the aims of the reform of labour law should include the strengthening of labour law regulations on employment relations, complying with the norms and abolishing the different types of fake contractual relationships in place of legal employment relationships.
The following views determine the position of LIGA Trade Unions on changing the law and the related regulations:
In the field of collective labour rights
The role of collective agreements should become stronger and the conditions for concluding and extending them should be improved, ensuring the opportunity to conclude workplace sectoral collective agreements in all areas. The guarantees for complying with the collective agreements must be established by the possibility of applying serious sanctions if the collective agreements are broken.
LIGA would like every workplace to have a collective agreement serving the benefit of employees, providing workers with security and protection.
The conditions for the operation of trade unions should be improved, and the rules regulating their entitlements should become stronger.
Respect for and undisturbed possibility to exercise the freedom of organisation and the right of association must be guaranteed, as well as respect and recognition of trade unions’ right to operate autonomously.
The judicial practice of hindering the registration of trade unions must be ended.
Infringements of trade union rights must be prevented.
Labour law protection covering employees elected to hold trade union offices should be strengthened and extended. In order to prevent the employers from exercising their legal rights in an inappropriate manner, the consent of the trade union should be necessary for the extraordinary notice if dismissal given to trade union officers.
Full representational rights must be guaranteed for trade unions; the right of veto and the right of monitoring must be filled with content.
The double nature of the function of works councils and trade unions must be ended and the rights of works councils must clearly be separated from the rights of trade unions.
The right of the works councils to conclude normative agreements must be taken away.
As for labour relations, our confederation is convinced that we need balanced relationships; we support strengthening the institutionalised forms of handling conflicts, as well as improving their efficiency.
In the area of individual labour law
All forms of employment must be based on the minimum of fundamental rights, including the ban on discrimination, the protection of employees’ health and safety and the freedom of association and representation.
We strongly condemn changing regular employment contracts for forms of employment allowing abuses. Employment without contracts or based on bogus contracts must be eliminated.
Atypical forms of employment must be reinterpreted and the phenomenon of “escaping labour law” must be reduced. It must be guaranteed that choosing atypical forms of employment shouldn’t mean avoiding labour law regulations; establishing atypical employment relationships should be based on employees’ voluntary choice. In atypical employment relationships it is necessary to eliminate the risks threatening employees and to provide them with adequate protection.
The rules and regulations of posting workers must be determined in a way that they serve – in accordance with their original function – to solve problems stemming from the cyclical nature of production and not to get rid of traditional employment relationships.
The conditions making it possible to end employment relationships, especially in cases of extraordinary notice of dismissal, must be made stricter. The modification of the rules for ending employment relationships and the criteria of illegally ending employment relationships should not be allowed to be disadvantageous to employees.
The efficient implementation of the rules ensuring the principle of the same wages for the same work must be guaranteed.
The propagation of rules promoting flexibility must be halted and we need significant and firm guarantees to make the boundaries between flexibility and security clear.
It must be guaranteed that no deviation from the general rules is possible in either the collective agreements, or the employment contracts or agreements between the parties to the disadvantage of the employees.
As for organising working time, the 48 hour maximum weekly working time, stipulated also in the legal regulations, must be enforced in practice. Disproportionate burdens on employees and haphazard ways of working, generating from pressure by the employers or from the need to make both ends meet, must be ended.
Reduction in working time and in the duration of overtime work must be stimulated and the possibility of both collective and individual participation in making decisions on working time issues must be guaranteed.
LIGA supports reducing compulsory working time. The implementation of full employment is a major priority among the goals of the employment policy of the European Union. The means and methods to achieve this goal should be determined also in Hungary, and one possible solution could be the gradual reduction of working time.
In order to help enforcing employee rights, LIGA wants the possibility for trade unions to commence court proceedings to become law, also in the case of trade union members’ individual legal disputes.
LIGA strongly demands the legislation and the judicial institutions to take efficient measures in order to accelerate labour court decisions.
In order for the labour laws to be enforced and the labour conflicts to be prevented and handled, LIGA thinks it is necessary to make labour inspection stricter. To achieve this, the personal and material conditions of the Hungarian Labour Inspectorate must be improved, and its organisation and supervision must be made tripartite.
2. Trade union policy, operation of the organisation
In the present situation of protecting employee interests, LIGA Trade Unions attach special attention to efficient interest representation.
In order to achieve this, it promotes
- the strengthening of the trade union movement,
- the renewal of the trade union movement,
- adapting to the new challenges,
and with the help of the above, the improvement of employees’ living and working conditions.
2.1. Relationships of the confederation
In the past years, the Hungarian trade union movement has been faced with challenges – on the one hand because of the economic and social changes, and on the other, because of the political developments – which imply that we must improve our adaptability and strengthen the trade union movement.
LIGA is dedicated to improve the employees’ situation. That is why we aim to integrate all sectoral trade unions, both in the business sphere and the public sector, which consider the situation of workers more important than their own political and organisational interests.
LIGA is committed to amending the relationship between the trade union confederations. That is why it suggests organising elections among employees. Participation in top level fora of interest reconciliation and the system of decision making in these fora should be based on the result of the elections.
LIGA Trade Unions declare to be ready for closer cooperation with any confederation with which common interests and values can be reconciled.
2.2. Internal operation
Creating the common organisation could relieve LIGA, too, and as a result it would allow for rationalising the internal operation as well as improving the efficiency of carrying out the remaining tasks.
In order to improve LIGA’s adaptability and its ability to cooperate, the areas below should be strengthened:
- The financial basis of LIGA’s operation should be further strengthened.
- LIGA’s mass base should be increased. To achieve this, the level of organisation should be assessed. The main aim of organising is mobilising non-recruited employees, and so improving the global level of organisation. Existing trade unions not belonging to any confederation should be integrated, new member organisations should be created, and workers not having traditional working status should be organised. The tasks concerning organisation should be shared between LIGA’s member organisations, the confederations consisting of LIGA member organisations, LIGA, and the co-confederations, taking into consideration the principle according to which every level should carry out jobs that suit that level.
- Regional operation should be promoted.
- In order for LIGA Trade Unions to be suitable for the changing fora of interest reconciliation, new organisations should be possible to create within the confederation. As a result, it will be possible in the years to come to create sectoral-professional organisations as well as sectoral organisations and county-level coordination fora.
- The work done by LIGA in the field of information should be further improved. LIGA’s membership should be addressed, but also the remaining part of society. Up-to date means of information transmission and means of the media should be widely used.
- These means should be applied to improve internal democracy and organisational operation as well as to address groups that are difficult to reach (e.g. young people).
- LIGA Trade Unions pay special attention to the realisation of equal opportunities. Therefore they operate the Platform of Equal Opportunities at the level of the confederation, and give professional help to their organisations to promote equal opportunities and fight against any form of discrimination.
- LIGA Trade Unions consider the existing institutions of employees’ participation important. They establish constructive cooperation – within their sphere of interests – with works councils and the representatives of European Works Councils, health and safety representatives and employees’ representatives delegated to supervisory committees.
LIGA Trade Unions believe that the training of trade union officials and the training of employees is of utmost importance. It is a device that ensures in the long run the conservation and the development of the ability of the trade union to safeguard interests, a device that makes it possible for trade-union work to respond to the challenges of the world of labour.
The trainings, besides having to aim at solid professional basis and communicating the most up-to-date knowledge available, should transmit values shared by LIGA Trade Unions. That is the reason why trainings should focus on cooperation, on the emphasis on carrying out the tasks collectively, on the principle of social solidarity, on the fight against discrimination and segregation as well as on the protection of disadvantaged social groups. Furthermore, the trainings should help employees’ representatives to be able to negotiate as equal partners vis a vis employers and also in fora established by public bodies. The trainings should provide professional support to the political principles of LIGA Trade Unions and the decisions taken by its bodies.
The trainings have to take into consideration the objectives set by the European Trade Union Confederation, they should regard the opportunities offered by international cooperation as means whereby LIGA officials are able to carry our cross-border tasks, to represent their professional interests in international fora or to follow the positive examples of other countries.
When organising the trainings, the possibility of further trainings for officials who have already taken part in trainings must be ensured while the trainings should be open to newly elected officials, too. As regards the accessibility of trainings, transparency as well as the principle of regionality and the possibility of further training should be ensured. It should be made possible for LIGA Trade Unions to have their own accredited training programme in four years’ time.
2.3. Our external relations
2.3.1. With employers
It is not only among employees and potential trade union members that “the image of LIGA” should be improved, it is also necessary regarding employers and trade unions.
Every contact, every partner should be made aware that LIGA Trade Unions are
- professionally trustworthy
- determined, but also ready to come to an agreement in the world of labour.
They are interested in effective and result-oriented dialogue and negotiations with employers’ organisations also outside the formal framework of the National Council for Interest Reconciliation.
Multinational and international companies have become significant economic actors in Hungary. LIGA Trade Unions, in order to face the new type of challenges in this field, believe that it is important:
- to establish institutionalised relations between the confederation and the employers’ associations where the above mentioned companies are members,
- to organise permanent and regular consultations for LIGA member organisations operating in multinational companies and joint ventures,
- to establish permanent coordination concerning issues regarding multinational companies and joint ventures, and if it is – in the interest of employees – necessary, to act jointly with the other trade union confederations.
2.3.2. With political parties
LIGA as a national trade union confederation has contacts with the political actors of Hungarian public life and with the political parties that share the same values as LIGA.
Nevertheless, we continue to consider it important to keep our independence of parties.
However, besides keeping our independence, we should increase our activity and
- we must make our intentions and views understood,
- we must influence the political actors in accordance with employees’ interests.
2.3.3. With civil organisations
According to LIGA’s position, the diverse civil associations represent the fundaments of democracy.
On the basis of common interests and efforts, LIGA proposes to civil organisations wide scale cooperation.
2.3.4. With foreign countries
It has always been highly important for LIGA to have strong international relationships, as international support always increases an organisation’s power and recognition. This goal must be maintained also in the future and we must do everything not only to be present at the international arena, but also to have a significant impact.
Moreover, international relations are also important to help us exchange experiences so that we can avoid mistakes made by others and others can learn from our mistakes.
The greatest emphasis, however, must be put on our work in the European Trade Union Confederation, because the ETUC, as a social partner in the EU, is able to influence EU-level decisions that cannot be changed any more in Hungary and which have a direct impact on the Hungarian employees’ living and working conditions.
The decisions of the ETUC’s Executive Committee and other bodies must be influenced in a way that helps us to represent there the interests of Hungarian employees.
Our participation in the work of the International Trade Union Confederation must also be strengthened, with special emphasis on its European regional organisation, PERC. We must, of course, also participate in the global actions of the ITUC.
In both international organisations we must make efforts to help our professional and sectoral affiliates become members in the professional and sectoral organisations of both the ITUC and the ETUC.
Although we have joined the activities of TUAC, the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD since our previous congress, we should attain that the representatives of LIGA also participate in the expert committees of TUAC.
The ILO, the International Labour Organisation of the UN is a very important organisation for employees. LIGA continuously participates in the work of the organisation, as a member of the National ILO Council. This should remain so in the future.
We must further strengthen our bilateral relations, with special reference to the trade union confederations of our neighbouring countries. We must aim to maintain our existing bilateral relations and to establish new ones. In the name of international solidarity, we must offer our help to the confederations of those countries where no political and economic transformation has taken place yet.
It is important for us to participate in international solidarity actions, both at European and global level and to do our best to employ the possibilities offered by the international trade union movement to the benefit of LIGA.