Time to Think. How can employer and trade union coexist?
Recently, information about the existence of trade unions that are ready to "defend" the rights of employees in pharmaceutical companies has started actively disseminating on the pharmaceutical market. Definitely, the trade union is a powerful tool of legal protection for employees, however, the trade union does not always effectively represent and protect labour, social and economic rights and interests of employees.
Statutory regulation of trade union activities is determined by the Laws of Ukraine "On Public Associations," "On Trade Unions, their Rights and Guarantees of Activity," the Labour Code of Ukraine.
The legislation stipulates that the employer, in case that his/her employees are members of the trade union, has to interact with the trade union on issues related to:
- overtime work at the enterprise;
- the priority of granting leaves, the transfer of annual leave;
- introductions, replacement and revision of labour standards, and others.
In addition, the employer must agree with the trade union body against employees who are members of elected trade union bodies on:
- changing the terms of the employment agreement;
- changing the terms of remuneration;
- taking disciplinary action.
This list of restrictions for the employer in case of the stay of his/her employees in trade unions is not full.
Therefore, trade unions are vested with a lot of supervisory powers that the employer abides by. Thus, today the existence of a trade union organization at an enterprise makes the top management to think over their decisions in detail.
The absence of a trade union organization at an enterprise or the lack of information about its existence will not settle this issue. By way of example, if the trade union organization has not been created at the enterprise, it can exercise its powers through a shop steward, who, accordingly, is able to consent to termination of the employment agreement at the initiative of the employer. In this context, the employee can be a member of the trade union and the employer will find out it accidentally and instantly when a dispute arises.
In particular, the practice is widespread when medical workers are actively encouraged to join trade unions as soon as possible, promising further protection of labour rights. Meanwhile, they assure that so-called "being voluntold" to join the trade union will be anonymous and the employer will not know about it either. For example, there is a group in Telegram entitled "Farm. Ko! All the truth :)", which includes already 626 members and campaign messages about joining trade unions are posted. Another such group in Viber is "PS Public Health" with 1,074 members.
Supposedly, such campaign messages about the entry of employees into trade unions are associated with protection from dismissal. However, there is no guarantee that the trade union will carry out its activities in good faith. Therefore, enterprises should be prepared for the development of various scenarios of events and apply relevant legal mechanisms, so that the trade union "plays" by the rules of the enterprise.
This letter is for informational purposes about the situation in the pharmaceutical market. In view of the foregoing, when deciding on the activities of the company, apply for the provision of qualified legal advice.