Not every wage agreement entered in the Register of Collective Labour Agreements can be considered a collective labour agreement

Experience / 22.04.2024

In order to reach this conclusion that not every wage agreement entered in the Register of Collective Labour Agreements can be considered a collective labour agreement and win a case through the courts of first and second instance, many lawyers of the law firm had to take a closer look at the subject and go back to the legislation of the 1990s. It was an arduous and time-consuming search, but ended with complete success for the Client and the law firm.

The matter concerned a wage agreement concluded in 1990, in which the employer was represented by the bank’s board of directors, while the union side was represented by the man of confidence. The agreement concerned the introduction of a company remuneration system at the employer under the Law of January 26, 1984 on the Principles of Establishing Company Remuneration Systems. Subsequently, such agreements under the Law of September 29, 1994 amending the Labour Code and certain laws were transformed by operation of law into a collective labour agreement. The amending law imposed an obligation on employers to report to the Register of Company Collective Labour Agreements (the “Register”), the unified texts of these agreements, within 3 months of the entry into force of the amending law.

In accordance with the obligations imposed by the legislation, the Client made such notification, as a result of which the District Labour Inspector registered the agreement in the Registry, considering that it had transformed into a collective labour agreement by operation of law.

After registering the agreement, the employer, when making changes to the collective labour agreement, reported all changes to the Registry, with the result that at the beginning of the 21st century, during the recognition of one of the employer’s applications, the District Labour Inspector refused in writing to register the changes, considering that the agreement concluded in 1990 was defective. In this situation, the employer ceased making further requests to the District Labour Inspector, recognizing that in such a situation, employees are bound by the remuneration regulations.

It seemed that the matter was settled despite the fact that the collective labour agreement was still registered in the Registry, until 2019 came, in which the employees filed claims related to the payment of certain components of wages, which, in their opinion, resulted from the collective labour agreement according to the contents registered in the Registry. As, in their opinion, this legal act had not been effectively amended, they additionally notified the State Labour Inspectorate, requesting an inspection, and finally one of the employees took legal action to adjudicate claims arising from the registered collective labour agreement.

A legal analysis of all the employer’s documents and those in the Register led the law firm’s lawyers to the conclusion that the remuneration agreement had been concluded contrary to the applicable laws, as it should have been concluded by the competent body of the company’s trade union organization on the one hand and the workplace manager on the other, after consulting the labour council (crew council) and obtaining a positive opinion of the general meeting of employees. After a thorough search of the files, it turned out that the man of confidence had acted on behalf of the union, and the opinion of the general staff meeting was not found in the files, because no such meeting had taken place.

When the advocates and attorneys came to the conclusion that the remuneration agreement could not transform by operation of law into a collective labour agreement, another problem arose as to how to treat the District Labour Inspector’s entry on the registration of the agreement in the Registry. An analysis of the regulations led the lawyers of the law firm to the conclusion that the entry in the Registry was of an orderly rather than a constitutive nature. This gave us the basis for raising a number of procedural objections, which the court took into account in full, which ultimately led to the successful conclusion of the case and dismissal of the claim against our client.

The successful conclusion of this case also put an end to any labour disputes at the Client arising in connection with the interpretation of a collective labour agreement, which had never been one, despite the relevant entry in the Registry.