Parliamentary Committee Bends Slightly on Collective Bargaining Bill
Citing public pressure, the Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee on February 20 altered its draft amendments to the law on collective bargaining, mandating that parties give at least six month's notice before unilaterally pulling out of an indefinite agreement.
The move marks a slight concession from the version of the Collective Agreement Act amendments approved by the committee on February 13, which allowed the parties to cancel with just three months' notice, but is nowhere near the two years that unions had demanded.
Under the law, a collective agreement becomes indefinite by default when it expires. But whereas the current law makes the terms of the agreement binding after that time, the amended version allows an employer to cancel the contract.
Several thousand workers represented by unions gathered in Tallinn on February 18 to protest the planned changes to the law, which union leaders say are being rushed through without their input.
Marko Pomerants, head of the parliamentary committee, said that the latest changes were put into place as a response to public sentiment on the issue.
"The need for today's discussion arose because of intense public attention to the planned amendments and criticical remarks that appeared in the media over the weekend, which said that the regulation of collective labor relations had insufficient time limits," said Pomerants.
The bill is scheduled for its second reading in Parliament on February 22.