The union that protects the Czech state employees

The trade union delegation from Kosovo met with Pavel Bednar and Rudolf Pospishil, representatives of the Association of Trade Unions of State Bodies and Organizations.

Bednar confirmed that their union represents public sector workers such as employees of municipalities, counties and state administration as well as customs employees, financial administration. In total, it represents about 80 thousand workers. 

Later, he shared the story of how the union managed to sign the collective agreement with the government, which covers state employees in the quality of civil servants, whose rights are regulated by the Law on Civil Servants.

“We are one of the trade unions that negotiated with the government to increase salaries in the public sector, and we have just completed negotiations for 2016. The growth will be of 3 percent. From our point of view, it is minimal because the economic performance is very strong, but we are glad that there is an increase in salaries. In addition, one of our priority is the collective agreement at the highest level”, said Bednar.

In the Czech Republic, state workers’ rights are regulated under the Labour Law, the Law on Civil Servants and the Law that regulates security workers or of those in uniform. The main problem this union has is with the application of the Law on Civil Servants, which entered into force recently.

“This law imposes different restrictions for workers; for example, the employer has the right to send the employee on a business trip even without the consent of the worker, but compensation is not offered…obviously we cannot agree with that” stated Rudolf Pospishil. “Meanwhile, the courts and prosecutors have separate laws that regulate their employment. Other provisions, not foreseen under those laws, are regulated by the Labour Law. To sum up, everything that is not regulated by special laws, then its governed by the Labour Law”, said Pospishil.

The meeting with the union was followed by many questions from the Kosovo delegation, who were interested to know more about the representation of workers at the municipal level in the union, and possible ways of addressing their problems. Pospishil explained that they are directed directly to municipalities.

Ali Vitija, chairman of the Customs Union in Kosovo, told the Czech counterparts that his union’s internal organization is one of the most innovative in Kosovo, partly also due to its recent establishment. Vitija said that custom officers are among the so-called uniformed civil servants.

Coincidentally, the head of the Trade Union Organizations and State Bodies was a custom officer before starting he’s unionist activity, and this was a good opportunity to exchange relevant experiences. Even in the Czech Republic customs officers are part of the category of uniformed workers. 

“Judges and members of the security forces don’t have the right to go on strike because of the sensitivity of their work”, concluded Pospishil.

This trade union is part of the national confederation and member of national organizations at European level.

It was also mentioned that even the private sector is covered by trade union organization. The Czech Republic had a rapid economic development thanks to the ability to attract foreign investment. Large investments are made in the automotive industry. The largest union of private sector is that of Metalworkers, which also includes private sector automobile workers. Another strong trade union of the private sector is the energy one.

Visar Prebreza
Prague, October 2015