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Industrial relations in the new member-states, the reasons of the low trade union membership and its decreasing trend in relation to EU-15 countries


In 2011 our organization has finished the participation in the European project cofinansed by the European Commission and Polish Trade Union "Solidarnosc". The project basic goals were: to diagnose the downward trend of the trade union membership; to increase the awareness and understanding of the improvement industrial relations on all levels and to equip the social stakeholders involved in industrial relations in the tools facilitating the identification, prevention and solution the trade union membership problems in companies.

In order to implement the above mentioned goals, the following actions have been taken up:

A conference with partners'''' and supporting organisation'''' experts (ETUC, ACV-CSL-Belgium, LPS -Lithuania, CL„Podkrepa"-Bulgaria, DCFTU LIGA-Hungary) on the role of trade unions in the CEE in the context of the EC Report "the trade union density has a very positive effect on reducing wage inequality and the incidence of in–work poverty".
The conference was also for promotion of the whole project. An important value added aspect of the conference was a joint Polish expert session (experts of employers organizations - members of the Tripartite Commission) devoted to the question how trade unions contribute to the development of the company. It was an important and publicly highlighted stage in the process of breaking mutual lack of trust and getting to closer co-operation.
The activity of participants during the discussion showed that the project subject was up to date and important. An expertise translated in partners'''' languages defining: reasons of the low union density in the CEE countries; possible directions and methods for improving it especially during the crisis; the low solutions improving the industrial relations all over the levels, active women participation in the labour market.

Three international seminars (in Poland, Lithuania, Hungary) for 77 unionists on tools enabling identification, prevention and solution the membership problems in companies. According to the evaluation sheets fulfilled by the trainees the organization of the training and the quality of given information were appreciated.

The project has identified a clear need to organise and to run a wide trade union debate about the union''''s mission, and its special, development oriented focus for enterprises, sectors, and regions as well as for the entire economy. The participants have stressed need to study opinions expressed by the enterprise unions and individual members on current basis and also the need for the national structures of the union to support union activities on the enterprise level. It seems absolutely necessary to develop a habit of real participation in the trade union life.

Another important result of the project is an expertise with diagnosis of low union membership and showing recommendations for future measures. The CEE countries still suffer a lot from low quality of social dialogue at every level. The authoritarian management style prevails and atypical forms of employment are overused (so called junk employment contracts). The employers'''' organisations which participated in the projects confirmed value of trade unions. During the project activities it has been cleared that the trade unions leaders'''' negotiation knowledge and skills are very important for the employers.

Cimkék: ETUC ACV-CSL LPS Podkrepa

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