A company union organization is a structure that operates within a certain workplace and is dedicated to representing the interests of employees. It remains independent within its statutory scope of activity from employers, state administration, local government and other organizations. It represents employees in negotiations with the employer over working conditions, wages, employment, job security and social benefits. It also provides support to members in case of conflicts with the employer, information and advice on labor rights, and conducts training for its members.
The organization must have a minimum of 10 members who are employees with an employer under the organization’s activities, or persons other than employees who are engaged in remunerated labor, performing work for an employer under the organization’s activities, for at least 6 months, in order to have the rights of a company trade union organization. The organization is also obliged, according to the Trade Unions Act, to provide the employer with information on the number of members, every 6 months – as on June 30 and December 31 – by the 10th of the month following that period.
A trade union organization that was established during the aforementioned 6-month reporting period is obligated to submit information, to the employer, on the number of members within 2 months from the date of establishment of the trade union organization. This information must include the current status of the number of members as of the date of its submission. The fulfillment of this obligation by the union organization will not waive, the previously described obligation.
Consequences of not fulfilling the information obligations.
If a company union organization fails to fulfill the reporting obligation described above, it will lose its rights as a union organization until the obligation is fulfilled. This means that when a trade union organization fails to submit information regarding the number of its members, then as on January 11 or July 11, respectively, the employer is not obligated to interact with the organization on issues to which it is normally obliged by law until such information is submitted.
In relation to the submitted information on the number of members of a company trade union organization, the employer or a trade union organization operating at the employer’s site may submit a written statement of objection, questioning the number of members of a particular company trade union organization. Both the employer and the union organization operating at the employer’s site have 30 days from the submission of information by the questioned organization to file such an objection. The organization then has 30 days to apply to the labour court with jurisdiction for the location of the employer’s headquarters to determine the number of members as of the last day of the relevant six-month period. If the deadline to apply to the court is not kept, the union organization has no rights until it fulfills this obligation. The court to which the request to determine the number of members of a company trade union organization is submitted shall issue a ruling on the matter within 60 days from the date of submission of the request.
In the event that an objection to the size of a given company trade union organization proves to be groundless, a new submission, by the reporting entity, of an objection to the same trade union organization may not be made earlier than one year after the date on which the ruling on the determination of the number of members of that organization becomes legally binding.
Is it acceptable to give an incorrect number of employees in order to exercise the rights of a company union for a longer period of time?
The report of an overestimated number of members of a trade union organization in order to obtain the rights of a trade union organization inextricably carries the risk of receiving a penalty of fine. It should be further understood that the threat of fine applies to those who hold positions within that trade union organization. The purpose of imposing the threat of a fine for such an action, was made to effectively prevent the employer from being misled about the actual powers of the organization in question.
Author: Marcin Jóźwiak
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