Labour Research September 2009

European news

Polish government plans to raise threshold for collective bargaining

The Polish government plans to raise the level of support necessary before unions have a right to bargain with the aim of limiting the number of unions active in Poland.

At present, all unions with at least a 10% level of membership in a workplace have a right to negotiate. This figure falls to 7% if the union belongs to one of the three main union confederations, Solidarnosc, OPZZ or FZZ. A union can be formed with just 10 members and there are some 6,300 local unions with no links to national confederations.

Zbigniew Chelbowski, the parliamentary chief of the ruling centre-right PO party, said the intention is to increase the negotiating threshold to between 25% and 33%. He explained that with the change “we will on the one hand limit the number of unions and on the other make negotiations between employers and employees easier.”

The planned change has been welcomed in principle by the larger unions. Jan Guz, head of OPZZ, has described reaching agreement with so many unions as “practically impossible” and Solidarnosc leader Janusz Sniadek also says “small unions can block negotiations”. However, he believes 30% is “decidedly too high” and hopes to reach a more satisfactory solution following further discussions with the government and the employers.