The Annual meeting of the MOSZ General Assembly was held on 30 May 2014 at Hotel Rubin, in the usual well-organised manner, with pleasant and informative debates on substantive issues and enthusiastic guidance, which serves as orientation for the coming year.
One of the most important points of the General Assembly was the farewell to István Kovács, Head of the Supervisory Board, who resigned from this position after long years of work. The new Supervisory Board was also elected, delegates elected László Szente as the new head of the Board, whose members are Ferenc Buzder, Csaba Horváth, Miklós Kucsera, Miklós Sümegvári.
Sándor Herega was elected as head of the Credentials and Nominations Committee, whose members are Ferenc Bélavári and László Horvai.
István Kovács thanked the organisation for the clear and accurate accounting saying: „Though we were on the opposite sides, work in Munkástanácsok was always accurate and professional, this is why our relation has always been excellent.”
The Presidium of Munkástanácsok thanked István Kovács for long years of commitment and responsible work.
The General Assembly was opened by Imre Palkovics, President, who in his report briefly presented the situation and the circumstances under which the organisation has had to carry out its tasks, he talked about the new challenges, possible responses and our genuine achievements during this process.
The organisational development of Munkástanácsok started some years ago has brought new positive results. The network building project has proved successful, several new organisations were established or already existing organisations decided to join our confederation in several fields. We are in the process of negotiating with further organisations with large membership and working in important fields.
Over the past year the Government provided significant financial resources for us to implement professional programs. Amongst them outstanding programs are the JóKépzés (Vocational training) program in the area of adult training and education, and the Munkavállalói Akadémia (Workers’ Academy) E-learning program, which you will find on our website www.munkastancsok.hu under „Our services” („Szolgáltatásaink”). In the area of research, we focused on occupational safety and health, workers’ share ownership possibilities and asset management trusts. We commissioned knowledgeable experts to analyze these issues and work out implementation plans for the organisation. The first phase of our successful Jogpont (Legal advisory service) project launched two years ago is about to be finished these days.
As regards inequalities, we have achieved major results over the past two years with the increase of the minimum wage and the real value of the recommended pay rise, with the extension of the family tax allowances to cover families in lower income brackets. However, despite these efforts wage gaps are still of a considerable size. We continue to fight for the lower tax burden on low income workers, and the application of means-testing with respect to access to tax and other allowances (reduced utility bills, the amount of child benefit). When it comes to the redistribution of resources saved by the application of means-testing, we suggest that health care, vocational training and active labour market policies be given priority.
To promote economic growth, we continue to support the idea of the government concluding cooperation agreements with the large employers in the country, to carry out new large-scale investment and job creation. At the same time we also continue to criticise the government for not taking into account the quality of industrial relations, active, substantive social dialogue at these large enterprises. We suggest that the selection criteria in public procurement and allocation of funding should include the quality of industrial relations.
Exploiting the favourable context, Munkástanácsok in 2014 will initiate negotiations with social partners in order to join forces. As part of this, we suggest that legal protection be guaranteed for the worker notifying the authorities of illegal employment, trade unions – if properly authorised – be given the right to check in the database of the Tax Authority the payment of tax and contributions by the employers of their members , the regular discussion at tripartite fora of the experience of the Labour Inspectorate, furthermore we request information on the outcome of government initiatives to detect and impose tax on incomes transferred illegally to foreign bank accounts.
In our congress program emphasis was given to the reduction of vulnerability at work and the strengthening of workers’ and trade unions’ participation rights and rights to interest representation. In this area the major task is the amendment of the new Labour Code and the elimination of the provisions that are the most detrimental to workers.
In the autumn of 2013, Munkástanácsok conducted a survey at workplaces, covering hundreds of respondents, concerning the local impacts of the new Labour Code. Respondents included 627 workers, trade union officials from the following sectors: trade and commerce, postal workers, road transport (passenger and goods transport), mining (oil), metal and steel, water management. The results confirmed the expected fears and negative impacts of the Labour Code on workers’ situation at local levels.
Prior to the adoption of the new Labour Code, the Government and social partners agreed that the introduction of the new law would not lead to the drop in workers’ wages, the agreement was of principal significance. In spite of this, 20% of the respondents in the survey confirmed that their wages had dropped after 01 July 2012. This negative trend was typical of workers working in shifts or in an uninterrupted work schedule. The accounting and calculation of the working time and the wage was considered as „impossible to understand” or „possible to understand only in part”. Especially those working in a working time frame or working in uneven working time responded that calculations are not at all transparent and easily comprehensible.
The survey also confirmed the deterioration of the right to information of the trade unions. According to trade union officials, only half of employers give information on questions affecting a larger group of workers. Half of the requests for information are rejected by employers under the pretext of business secrecy.
The survey provided convincing arguments in favour of the trade union demand which aims at the discussion and revision of several provisions of the new Labour Code. Based on practical experience, we find the following points of paramount importance:
- the reintroduction of the previous provisions of the Labour Code on wage supplements,
- the reintroduction of the criteria related to performance-based wages,
- the reintroduction of the employer’s liability for damages with respect to work-related accidents and illnesses,
- definition of the compulsory elements of the forms used for the information of workers regarding their working time frame and the calculation of their wages,
- the reintroduction of the provision which allows for pauses during the working-time to be considered as part of the working time in the public sector,
- the reintroduction of the right of trade unions to information and consultation prior to employer’s decision that affects workers (the extension of the right of the works councils to information and consultation to cover trade unions, the definition of the type of information that cannot be qualified as „business secret”),
- the sanctioning of the violation of the right to social dialogue (see entitlement for state support, state funding, participation in public procurement),
- the extension of trade union officials’ working time allowance, the reintroduction of working time allowance that can be used for training.
Munkástanácsok urges the social dialogue to be commenced in the autumn of 2014 at the latest with the participation of the government, the employers and trade unions on the above points of the Labour Code to make it possible for the amendments to enter into effect as of 01 January 2015.
In his report Gábor Holecz, vice-president for the public sector, said: a significant progress in the life of Munkástanácsok was brought about by its participation in the National Reconciliation Council for the Public Services, which was made possible with the support of the employers’ organisations and the weight of the national representative sectoral federations that joined Munkástanácsok. The preparation of the reform of the Council was an important step in the past, and a task for the future is to increase the number of the mandates and thereby the weight of MOSZ within the Council.
Zoltán Kovács, vice-president for the private sector, talked about the extension of trade union services, part of which is the Vodafone telephone fleet of MOSZ, at favourable rates.
As regards the legal activities next year, the focus will be on the preparation aimed at the amendments of labour legislation, the training of our members, and the reflection of new provisions in training modules and training material, manuals. Our important task is to collect and process sectoral provisions, which has already been started. We wish to make the lawyers’ forum a regular activity, which provides an opportunity for an exchange of views and legal assistance provided for our members at the highest professional level.