Greek and French Labor Laws French Trade Essay

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Greek and French Labor Laws

French trade unions are the weakest in terms of membership in the entire Europe. Generally trade unions are divided confederations; there is rivalry between the confederations since they compete for the same membership (Linda 1995)

The Greek government has a right to organize the economy at the interest of the Greek people, and in that regard their decisions cannot harm the basic government economic plan. The Greek government is heavily involved in their economic planning. In Greece the law permits unions to hold a strike. There is a board that deals with collective labor agreements, that is the Organization of Mediation and Arbitration Board. The board deals with any discrepancies. The board is made up of 11 members six of whom are elected by workers and employers, two from academic institutions, one specializing in labor relations, one representative from the Ministry of Employment and one chairman elected by the other 10.

Workers representation in Greece

According to Anita 2001, there exist the local primary level unions in Greece. These unions are great significance in employee representation in the country. Their legal rights covering is very clear and it extends to having consultation and negotiation rights. There is also the existence of the council structures which are only found in companies. The council structures work closely with the local unions. The legal rights which the local union, the primary level union organization, exercises in the workplace provide the key to the representation of employees in Greece. Primary level union organizations have extensive rights to information and consultation under the 1982 Trade Union Democracy Act, and in 1990 these rights were extended to negotiation.

Works councils can exist alongside the primary level unions, under legislation passed in 1988, but their position is clearly less powerful than that of the union and they have not been widely set up, other than in larger companies. In reality, only a few companies have works councils, and if there is no union, there will not be a works council. In addition to these bodies, health and safety delegates should be elected in workplaces with more than 20 employees and a health and safety committee should also be set up in workplaces with more than 50 employees.

A trade union composed of its members has a range of rights regardless of the number of workers it represent. In the event that there exist no union, it is the responsibility employees themselves can come together to establish a group to champion their rights, on condition that the workplace employs at least 10 but no more than 40 people, and provided that at least half the employees come from the group. This group should only exist for six months and representation then must be through a union. This possibility does not exist in workplaces with more than 40 employees. (Groshen, 1991)

The law lays down clear rules as to how primary level unions should operate. They must elect an executive committee, which should include a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. There are no rules as to how many members there should be on the union executive committee, but the law does stipulate how many in a workplace are given protection against dismissal. These numbers increase with the size of the workplace

Workers representation in France

According to Groshen, 1991 the system of workers representation in France has both the unions and structures that are directly elected by the members in the workforce. In the event where trade unions exist, the outstanding figure becomes the trade union delegate. Trade unions that have been set in a company are normally able to group themselves into sections, which bring together their members at their place of work and have specific rights regarding the law. Furthermore, trade unions can appoint trade union delegates in companies with more than 50 employees this is in the event that there is enough support. These union delegates play an important role within the trade union and in the work place

There exist two separate elected bodies whose main function is the representation of the entire; the bodies have specific legal rights and duties. These elected bodies include employee delegates (DP) and the works council (CE). The elected bodies serve either at company level or at plant level.

In France there exist also some separate committees which deals with health and safety issues of the individual workers. The individual workers have the right of expression about their working conditions; this right is normally negotiated by the unions after occasional meeting with workers and their supervisors.

In the event that the trade unions exist they play a very important role in coordinating and this is done the trade union delegate. However, there are cases where trade unions have low membership and this is normally because of the small companies they represent

Numbers and structure

Trade unions present in a company are normally able to set up trade union sections, irrespective of the number of union members or employees, and because of the structure of French trade unionism there will often be several trade union sections in the same company.

However, legislation introduced in 2008 has slightly changed the rules in this area. The law now says that the rights of the trade union section are different depending on whether or not the union is "representative within the company." To be representative within the company a union must meet a number of criteria such as independence and financial transparency. However, the most important factor is whether it has the support of at least 10% of the workforce, as indicated by the votes in the first round of the elections for the works council or employee delegates. Some companies have already had these elections but in others they will not take place until 2013. In companies where new elections have not yet occurred, the existing rules under which any union body that belongs to the five nationally representative unions is representative at company level continue to apply.

French trade unions

In France only 9% of the total number of workers belongs to a registered trade union; this is slightly lower than nearly 31% of Britain's workers. The Capital Gains tax is less than a third in composition as compared to Industrial metal workers union in Germany. The CGT has lost two-thirds of its membership since the 1970s. Union clout is now concentrated in the public sector: one in four energy workers is a union member, but in the private sector union penetration is as low as 6%. (Linda, 1995)

The influence wielded by the French unions is primarily due to its entrenched statutory role. In France issues to do with unemployment is dealt with by an independent body called the UNEDIC which is the unemployment branch of the social securities, the body has since 1958 fixed the rate and duration of benefits through direct negotiation with the unions. The councils are financed by companies so as to enable them pay their staff. The companies also give the councils a budget of about 2% for their social activities

Basically in France unions wields a lot of power, but is not representative of the workers. It has been suggested that this disparity causes conflicting labor relations in France. Because of this, the unions only represent the interests of the few. The former French president Mr. Sarkozy made an argument to support the idea of breaking the union consortium on the first round of works-council elections, to encourage wide range representation, but also to give a tax break for union dues to boost membership.

Greek trade unions

Trade unions in Greece are organized on the basis of what they do. Based on those criteria there are industrial unions which are based on the sector of economic activity. There is general decrease in the number of trade unions within an enterprise and in the private sector, there are independent unions in Greece called primary unions these unions may be formed with the minimal of legal requirements; this type of trade union favors the fragmentation of the trade union movement and is also very effective. They are very many and in the real sense are not involved in trade union activities. There are over 8,000 primary unions in existence in Greece, with more than half of them belonging to individual enterprises.

Trade union organizations in Greece are categorized into primary, second-level and third-level organizations.

Primary unions are grouped into three these include;

(a) Organizations possessing the legal form of a trade union

(b) Local branches of unions with a broader regional or even national coverage as provided for in their standing rules; and (c) Employees' associations, mostly in small enterprises, with the informal status of an association of persons

Second-level trade union organizations include Federations and Labor Centers. Third-level trade union organizations are confederations of federations and of Labor Centers. Freedom to form trade unions is established under Articles 23 and 12 of the 1975/1986 Constitution and also in accordance with…[continue]

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