Erosion of working conditions

A radical change is coming in terms and conditions of employment. The first Government measure will seek to reduce the status of workers’ representatives.
  • There will be no pay for the first day of sick leave
  • "Relevant grounds" will alone suffice for dismissing an employee
  • Workplaces with no shop steward will be allowed to agree local employment conditions that fall below the statutory standard
  • Special grounds will only be required for temporary employment when the job lasts for longer than one year
  • Reduced powers of the national conciliator will make it harder to settle industrial disputes
  • A shorter notice period will be required for temporary layoffs
  • Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will have no duty to re-engage redundant workers when operations recover

Workplaces with no shop steward allowed to agree local employment conditions that fall below the statutory standard

From the Government Programme

The Government will reform legislation to increase opportunities for local bargaining at company level. The Government’s vision is that local collective bargaining will be equally possible in all companies regardless of whether the company is a member of an employer association or what kind of employee representation system is in place at the company.

The Government will expand the conditions for local bargaining by removing from labour legislation bans on local bargaining in non-organised companies that comply with a generally applicable collective agreement. Labour legislation will be amended to allow a company-specific collective agreement to derogate, by agreement, from the same provisions of labour legislation from which a derogation is now only possible by means of a national collective agreement.

Current practice

Labour legislation fundamentally seeks to protect the weaker party in employment and impose a minimum standard of working conditions. Collective agreements specify the issues that are open to local collective bargaining and the negotiating parties. The minimum standards established in labour law may only be set aside under a collective agreement concluded by a trade union and a federation of employers. Only businesses organised in such a federation may conclude local agreements that set aside statutory minimum employment standards.


  1. The parties to a local agreement concluded with no shop steward will lack the necessary expertise and understanding of the content of the collective agreement and of labour law. Without the involvement of a trade union that is familiar with collective agreements and industry conditions, there is nobody to ensure that local agreements are balanced, or that they do not establish impaired standards on matters that should not be subject to local collective bargaining.
  2. A preference for non-organised businesses will reduce the interest of employers in joining a federation. The duty of an employers’ federation to monitor compliance with collective agreements only extends to affiliated businesses.
  3. Any preference for enterprise-specific and local collective bargaining will discourage employers from joining federations, with fewer national collective agreements concluded in future. A decline in national collective agreements will mean a corresponding reduction in universally binding collective agreements, with fewer and fewer employees covered by guaranteed minimum terms and conditions of employment.