Trade union freedom
The trade union freedom is protected by the Constitution of the Slovak Republic (Art. 36 and 37), respective conventions of the International Labour Organization, European Social Charter; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; Labour Code (Act n° 312 Coll. as amended by later regulation); Act n° 2/1991 Coll. on Collective Bargaining as amended by later regulation; Act n° 83/1990 on Association of Citizens, as amended by later regulation; Act n° 313/2001 Coll. on Public Service as amended by later regulation; Act n° 312/2001 Coll. on the State Service and on changes and supplements to some laws as amended by later regulation; Act n° 106/1999 Coll. on Economic and Social Partnership (Tripartite Act).
Prerogatives of trade unions recognized by law
• collective bargaining and concluding collective contracts on wage, working and social conditions
• right to go on strike
• obligation of an employer to negotiate in advance with a respective trade union body for questions concerning :
- conditions for the employment of employees as well as specific working conditions of women, youth, and employees with changed work abilities,
- essential questions of corporate social policy, measures to improve hygiene of work and work environment
- measures related to a larger number of employees
- measures related to economic, social, health and cultural interests of employees
- organizational changes (restriction or termination of an employer’s activities, fusion, merger, division and change of the employer’s legal form)
- a notice given to an employee (under a sanction of its invalidity)
- measures related to the employer’s recreational and social facilities
- measures to prevent injuries and occupational illnesses and to protect employees’ health
- questions related to the observance of safety and health protection at work,
- right to information on fundamental questions of the development of the employer’s activities and on economic results
- control activities focused on the observance of rules, including wage rules and commitments resulting form a collective agreement
Act n° 106/1999 Coll. on Economic and Social Partnership (the Tripartite Act) requires ministries and other central state administration bodies to negotiate in advance, through the Council of Economic and Social Contract of the Slovak Republic (a tripartite council on a national level), with trade union organizations as well as with employers’ organizations, the proposals of generally binding legal rules and conceptual documents related to economic and social interests of employees and employers.
Collective bargaining in the private sector is carried out on two levels: through collective contracts of a higher level (a branch level) and corporate collective contracts. Corporate collective contracts are concluded by a concrete employer and cover all employees of that employer without any regard to the fact whether individual employees are trade union members. Collective contracts of a higher level are concluded between a union of employers and particular trade union association.
A higher level collective contract is binding on all employees of the employers for which the employers’ union concluded such a contract, irrespective of whether employees are trade union members. If suggested by a social partner, the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic may extend the applicability of a higher level collective contract to other employers in a particular branch, provided that criteria of similarity of economic and social conditions as well as similarity of the object of activity are fulfilled. In the private sector, the subject content of the collective bargaining is liberalised, however, collective contracts must heed a minimum range of employees ’rights guaranteed by law.
Promotion of social dialogue
The Council for Economic and Social Contract is a common initiation and consultancy body of the Government, trade unions and employers to support social dialogue.
The support of social dialogue within the Government falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic (preparation of proposals of legal rules; keeping records of intermediaries and arbitrators; extension of higher level collective agreements); the Deputy Prime Minister; the Minister of Economy (presiding over the Council for Economic and Social Contract); and, in certain general policy issues, the Government.
Within trade unions, the social dialogue falls under the responsibility of respective union headquarters, and, in the case of private sector employers, respective employers associations. An institutionalised tripartite social dialogue on the level of the Government, the Confederation of Trade Union Associations of the Slovak Republic, and the Federation of Employers´ Associations of the Slovak Republic has been under way since 1990 – in the form of a Council for Economic and Social Contract of the Slovak Republic. In regions, regional councils for economic and social contract have voluntarily been founded.
In the dispute about the conclusion of a collective contract a mediator serves as an independent intermediary. An intermediary may be decided on mutually by the parties to the dispute (an employer or a trade union organization), or it is determined, if proposed so by some of the contracting parties, by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family.
- If the proceeding before an intermediary was not successful, a contracting party may ask an arbitrator to decide in their dispute. The decision of an arbitrator is binding on both parties. Upon delivering the arbitrator’s decision, the collective contract is concluded, making individual claims to be enforceable by court.
Upon the request of one of the contracting parties, a judge may revoke the arbitrator’s decision only if it is in violation with generally valid legal regulation.
- In the public sector, the dispute on the conclusion of a collective contract involves a conciliator, and, in the next stage, a board of conciliation.
- Commissions of conciliation, operating in the disputes on the conclusion of a collective agreement in public service, are mutual parity bodies of the Government and trade unions. (Both the Government and trade unions appoint half of the members of a commission of conciliation).
Source: Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Coalition for Cultural Diversity (SCCD), 2008.