Bus company Atko claims it has not violated the law
According to bus and tourism company Atko Group AS, it has not used on-call time or violated the law when recording employee working hours as accused of doing by the Estonian Transport and Road Workers' Union (ETTA) on Monday.
The company announced that on April 5, it had made an inquiry to the Labour Inspectorate regrding the legality of implementing on-call time and is currently waiting for a response. They said that so far, they have not implemented on-call time.
Atko has also disagreed with ETTA's opinion that the company is paying its employees lower salaries and is consistently breaking the law. "The company has always paid the salary rates stipulated in the collective labor agreement and will continue to do so," Atko spokespeople said in a press release, noting that they had also received information that the trade union was pressuring Atko employees to participate in ETTA demonstrations.
"Taking into consideration the existence of valid collective pay agreements with the trade union, we are waiting for a legal position on the violation of the collective pay agreement by the trade union," spokespeople said.
Members of the ETTA staged a demonstration on Tuesday in which they demanded Atko change their procedure for recording working hours as, according to the union, the company is currently recording them unlawfully. "By using unlawful means, the employer is avoiding the drivers working overtime and is therefore paying the employees less than it should," ETTA leader Jaan-Hendrik Toomel said in a press release on Monday.
"Despite having drawn attention to the recurring problems and disputes in law enforcement institutions, the situation has not improved, the law is being violated and the company is finding new ways in which to violate the Employment Act as well as the sector agreement meant for all employees of the field," Toomel asserted.
According to the union, the employer is unlawfully using on-call time in the middle of the workday to reduce drivers' working time artificially in a way that is both against the law and the regulations of the collective labor agreement.
According to the ETTA, companies operating in this manner should not have access to public regular service procurements. Last Thursday, the union proposed a meeting with the Road Administration, the Labour Inspectorate and the Union of Estonian Automobile Enterprises relating to the question at hand.
Editor: Aili Vahtla