UFTUM organised National Panel Discussion within the project: “Enhancing Networking – Workers for information, cooperation and transparency”

The Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro is an associate partner in the project “Enhancing Networking – Workers for information, cooperation and transparency (ITC)” implemented by the Syndical Federation Of Machinebuilders And Metalworkers Cl Podkrepa (Bulgaria) in cooperation with partners from Poland (Union of Metal Workers and the Employers Association employers “LEWEIATAN”), Italy (Federation of Independent Transport Unions), Bulgaria (Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce) and Montenegro (UFTUM). The implementation of the project started at the beginning of last year, and the estimated duration is 18 months. Some of the basic objectives envisaged by the project relate to improving knowledge of European directives related to information, consultation and participation of employees in the decision-making process; fostering strong international cooperation frameworks to share knowledge and experience; identifying the most difficult challenges faced by workers in the process of enterprise restructuring and the rapidly transforming of working environment that requires some degree of adaptability; assisting employee representatives to make good use of newly acquired techniques in their own countries so that their application will have concrete results.

Within the project, the UFTUM organized a national panel discussion for its members, focusing on union representatives from the metal complex, to present project results so far and to discuss methods and skills that can be used to influence employees’ decision-making processes.

Documents that the UFTUM created within project activities were presented at the conference, as follows:

  • Documents that the UFTUM, i.e. expert engaged by the UFTUM, in the framework of previous project activities were presented at the national panel discussion, including the following:
  • Report on the results of the survey conducted in Montenegro – which summarized the results of the survey which was one of the first project activities, including the distribution of a questionnaire designed for both employee and employer representatives as well as preparation of an expert report based on the received responses. The questionnaire, or survey, as a data collection technique, was selected with the aim of looking at the situation in partner countries when it comes to information and consultation;
  • A strategy to improve employee participation in decision-making processes within the global value chain – which was to answer the question of how to strategically improve the effectiveness of information, consultation and participation mechanisms in the context of developing decent working conditions and enabling workers to be better informed about those processes involved;
  • Action plan for the implementation of the Strategy to improve employee participation in decision-making processes within the global value chain – which proposes measures and concrete activities for achieving the goals and priorities identified by the Strategy itself

In addition, at the national conference, participants had the opportunity to become more familiar with European directives governing the rights of employees to information, consultation and involvement, as well as the national legislative framework that guarantees the unions and employees the above mentioned rights. Particular attention has been paid to Directive 2002/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community, which establishes a minimum framework for information and consultation.

Considering the fact that Montenegrin legislation does not recognize the institute of Workers’ Councils and European Works Councils, but that the rights related to information and consultation of workers have been entrusted to trade unions, the participants of the national conference concluded as follows:

  • social dialogue is base of every developed and prosperous society, and the foundation upon which the European community rests upon;
  • in order to have good social dialogue, it is necessary to fulfill several preconditions, the most important of which is that the social partners respect each other, that is, be equal in mutual relations and that there is a willingness among the social partners to listen and to conduct dialogue on the basis of arguments;
  • more frequent employees in the decision-making process is one way of ensuring democracy in the workplace;
  • despite the rights guaranteed by the Labor Law and the General Collective Agreement relating to information and consultation of trade unions, the implementation of these rights remains in practice insufficient and questionable;
  • low level of social dialogue culture (most employers do not want to conclude a collective agreement);
  • low level of industrial democracy (employers prevent union formation) and widespread anti-union discrimination (obstruction of union formation and operation through intimidation, dismissal, reassignment to other jobs, reduction of wages…)
  • continuous education of employees and trade union representatives on their rights and the rights guaranteed by European legislation is a prerequisite for the realization of these rights in practice;
  • development and strengthening of international cooperation in order to exchange experiences and good practices.

With this in mind, the participants of the national conference emphasized the need to influence their activities, especially the transparency of their work, both to raise the awareness of their membership as well as employers about the importance of dialogue and the importance of involving employees in decision-making processes. Only timely informing and allowing employees to be consulted and really involved in the decision-making process can have multiple benefits not only for employees but also for employers and the company itself, since this builds mutual trust and greater understanding between employees and employers.