The three national trade union confederations – SAK, STTK and AKAVA – are extremely concerned about the new centre-right coalition government’s wide-ranging programme of attacks on trade union and workers’ rights and are planning events and protests in response. The government, which includes representatives of the far-right Finns Party is planning to impose restrictions on sympathetic and political strike action, a €200 fine for individual strikers when a strike is found to be illegal and a dramatic increase in fines on trade union for illegal action. It is also likely that further restrictions will be imposed on taking action in health and social services. The confederations are unhappy about the intervention in collective bargaining implied by setting wage increases in the export sector as a maximum in the conciliation process, so limiting the scope to address low pay in sectors dominated by women worker. Cuts to workers’ rights and benefits include: “relevant grounds” are enough to dismiss an employee; conditions below the statutory standard may be agreed at workplaces with no shop steward; special grounds for temporary employment only required when the job lasts for longer than one year; a shortened period of layoff notice; and no duty to re-engage dismissed workers in businesses with fewer than 50 employees. On top of all these come a range of cuts to unemployment and other benefits.
Government set to attack trade union and workers’ rights
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The Hungarian government has issued two decrees removing the right to strike from air traffic control staff. An appeal court judgement of 20 July clearly confirmed the union’s legal right to strike. However, six days later the two decrees were published which not only dismiss the decision of the Hungarian Appeal Court but also violate Article 28 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) has condemned the Hungarian government and strongly maintains that collective representation and collective bargaining are basic labour rights