Collective agreement negotiations
Role of National Conciliator needs examining – PAM’s Selin would like to discuss the ground rules of bargaining
PAM’s Ann Selin is demanding an examination of conciliation activities in labour market disputes and the bargaining culture before the next round of collective agreement negotiations. Ensuring the integrity of the institution of the conciliator requires recognition and consideration of changed labour market structures.
According to Ann Selin, President of Service Union United PAM, a fully independent conciliation system is the only option given the major changes in the operating environment in the labour market and in a situation where employers have distanced themselves from agreements with confederations.
“The job of the National Conciliator cannot be to supervise a wage ceiling. An institution that is supposed to be impartial must remain impartial and independent. Those conditions must be strengthened because that is the only way that it can continue to do its main job”, Selin states.
In Selin’s opinion the role of the conciliation institution needs to be reformed and possibly the laws governing it need to be updated to correspond better to the present day.
“The conciliation system now needs to be examined critically and then, if necessary, the relevant legislation and practices will have to be amended. Now is the time for tripartite consultations on the ground rules of conciliation”, Selin demands.
In Selin’s opinion, wage ceilings or wage levels must remain in the hands of the social partners. When negotiating working conditions it should be noted that the National Conciliator cannot dictate conditions to the parties in labour disputes that impede decisions by independent parties or limit the rights of trade unions and employees to improve working conditions.
Structures that limit the freedom of trade unions and slow down changes in the labour market have no place in today’s world. Nor do they help to strengthen the bargaining culture or the necessary trust between the social partners required to reach settlements.
“For this reason an analytical and unprejudiced evaluation of the conciliation system and open dialogue between the government and the social partners are a precondition for the credibility and future of the system”, Selin says.
As an example of the changes necessary in the labour market, Selin points to the objective of narrowing unjustified pay differentials between men and women, which have been in the public eye for years.
“Therefore in my opinion it is unethical and wrong that a civil servant appointed by the government, the National Conciliator, takes a decision alone to support a wages policy that prevents this objective form being realised”, Selin says and continues
“The most valuable role of the National Conciliator in conflicts over working conditions is to create the conditions for agreement, not to prevent glass ceilings being broken through.