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The crisis is undermining trade union rights in Central and Eastern Europe
The financial and economic crisis in most European countries is affecting the shape of labour and social relations as well as the quality and the level of social dialogue. In the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, this effect is strongly negative and destructive to the trade union movement.
The EFBWW notes a number of phenomena which are signs of the worsening conditions for trade union activity in the construction, wood, furniture and forestry sectors. This applies both to economic conditions and to the legal framework for trade union activities. These changes in the social, economic and legal environment hamper, both directly and indirectly, the functioning of trade union representation of employees.
The EFBWW pays particular attention to the actions of the governments in Hungary and Romania, directly aimed at undermining trade union rights and the elimination of bipartite social dialogue and transforming the mechanisms of tripartite as well as citizen public dialogue of which the unions are still part. Consequently, this will lead to a total marginalisation of trade unions.
The EFBWW also expresses its concern for the attempts to indirectly marginalise trade unions in countries such as Poland and Slovakia, consisting of ignoring the agreements achieved in the process of social dialogue as well as broadening the spectrum of stakeholders in social dialogue with representatives of organisations that are not employees or employers. Such actions are intended to replace the social dialogue with non-binding forms of public consultation and to blur the social dialogue process itself.
The EFBWW expresses particular concern at the progressive erosion of the collective bargaining systems in many countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In countries such as Poland collective agreements do not constitute a source of labour law in the majority of sectors, in the private sector especially, which drastically reduces their importance at the enterprise level. In countries such as Romania, where sectoral agreements are still in force, the agreements’ coverage area has been reduced and there is a general deterioration of working conditions as a result of the replacing of union negotiators at company level with the weak presence of non-unionised employee representatives in the negotiations.
The EFBWW notes the increasing phenomenon of reducing permanent employment and the promotion of self-employment (including false self-employment), temporary contracts and various forms of precarious work for domestic and migrant workers. The legal restrictions to the Freedom of Association reduce the membership base of trade unions, especially in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. It becomes necessary to redefine the membership base of unions and legal labour systems to adapt to the needs of the new groups of workers to be represented by the trade union movement.

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