Tag archives: trade unions

Enforcement and bargaining power of trade unions

Trade unions should shape working life in a meaningful way through collective agreements ensuring good working relations. In order to be eligible for collective bargaining, they must have a minimum bargaining unit vis-à-vis the workplace, says the German Federal Constitutional Court.

In Germany, the labour courts decide whether associations are eligible for collective bargaining and can therefore be parties to a collective agreement. Not only companies where the workforce is seeking the collective bargaining, but also competing associations may question the classification of an association as a trade union and seek to have their bargaining capacity denied. In the present … Continue Reading

French employment law : Key developments expected for 2019

The French authorities have been very prolific in the area of effecting reforms to employment law, and 2019 will not be an exception to this general rule (although perhaps less so than was the case in 2017 and 2018).

First, in 2019, a certain number of reforms promulgated in 2017 and 2018 will either come into force become fully effective:

  • As of January 2019, all companies have become subject to the requirement to withhold income tax from salaries paid to their employees. This change had been under discussion for a fairly long time and was initially planned to enter into
Continue Reading

Singapore: Legal issues commonly faced by freelancers and self-employed individuals

An estimated 8 to 10% of Singapore’s existing workforce comprise freelancers and self-employed individuals.[1]  This percentage is likely to increase with the expansion of the gig and on-demand economy. In recent months, there has been increasing public concern as to the ‘employment’ rights and legal status of these freelancers and self-employed individuals. Are they employees or independent contractors, and why does it matter?

As a matter of Singapore law, there is no single conclusive test which determines whether a person is engaged as an employee or independent contractor. An assessment of the entire context and working relationship between the … Continue Reading

Federal unionized employers – Proposal for anti-scab provisions rejected

In March 2016, we issued a legal update discussing Private Member’s Bill C-234. This Bill, tabled by the NDP, proposed the introduction in the Canada Labour Code of measures comparable to the anti-scab provisions contained in the Québec Labour Code.

This NDP proposition was undertaken to support longstanding unions’ demands – in the past, similar initiatives were attempted at least 14 times without ever passing the stage of first reading.

In the case of this new offensive, the second reading was held in the House of Commons on September 28, 2016. By a vote of 217 against 47, the … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit adds to circuit split regarding enforceability of class action waivers

On August 22, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit joined the Seventh Circuit in finding that an employer violates the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by requiring employees to sign an agreement including a class arbitration waiver.

In Morris v. Ernst & Young, plaintiffs were required to sign “concerted action waivers” as a condition of their employment.  The “concerted action waiver” required employees to (1) pursue legal claims against Ernst & Young exclusively through arbitration and (2) arbitrate only as individuals and in “separate proceedings.”

Plaintiffs argued that the “separate proceedings” clause contravened three federal … Continue Reading

NLRB allows student assistants to form union

In the much anticipated Columbia University decision, the National Labor Relations Board reversed its most recent precedent and held that student teaching assistants at private colleges and universities are statutory employees under the National Labor Relations Act and may therefore vote to form a union.  This decision is a return to an earlier decision by the Board which overturned a decade-old standard of viewing student teaching assistants as students rather than a part of the teaching faculty.  This decision is sure to invite a rush of union organizing efforts at private universities and colleges across the country.

The Board’s decision … Continue Reading

Arbitrator Upholds Termination of Nurse for Patient Privacy Breaches

There is a growing body of arbitral jurisprudence upholding summary dismissal of employees who breached workplace codes of conduct, confidentiality and privacy policies by deliberately snooping into co-worker or client records without any legitimate purpose and for reasons of their own.  A number of these cases have concerned privacy breaches by hospital employees.  Ontario Nurses’ Association v. Norfolk General Hospital, 2015 CanLII 62332, is a fairly recent example.

The case involved a registered nurse who had been employed for 12 years at the Norfolk General Hospital in Simcoe, Ontario.  Her job required her to enter patient care notes and use … Continue Reading

Freedom of Association and the Ontario Medical Association

Last week, the Ontario Medical Association (“OMA”) challenged the constitutionality of the provincial government’s decision to cut fees for doctors. The OMA is relying on section 2(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter) which expressly protects freedom of association – a right most often invoked by trade unions. The organization is seeking to have the court declare that its members have a constitutional right to a binding dispute mechanism for conflicts arising out of compensation issues.

This is not the first time that the OMA has launched a constitutional challenge against the … Continue Reading

NLRB passes on football players’ employee status

On August 17, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) declined to assert jurisdiction to determine whether the Northwestern University (Northwestern) scholarship football players should be considered employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

In April, we reported that the Regional Director of Region 13 of the NLRB found that scholarship football players from Northwestern University (Northwestern) were “employees” under Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and he ordered an election so that eligible football players could vote on collective bargaining representation by the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA). Northwestern appealed, and just this week, the Continue Reading

Ontario Court of Appeal rules on interaction between Human Rights Code & Federal Charter of Rights

The Ontario Court of Appeal has recently upheld a decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal which discussed the interaction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) and the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”) with respect to discrimination in the employment context.

In the case of Taylor-Baptiste v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Ms. Taylor-Baptiste, an employee of the Toronto Jail, filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission alleging discrimination under s.5(1) and s.5(2) of the Code following statements made in a blog operated by a fellow employee, Mr. Dvorak. The incident occurred during … Continue Reading

Ontario teachers ordered back to school after illegal strike

The government’s new School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, which passed last year, has become the subject of controversy. Secondary school teachers across Ontario have been on strike for multiple weeks keeping approximately 70,000 students out of the classroom.

The three school boards have taken this issue of these local strike’s legality to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). The school boards sought a declaration that the local strikes in Durham, Peel, and Sudbury violate the new bargaining system as they are striking over provincially negotiated issues. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) rejected this argument on the basis … Continue Reading

Der arbeitsrechtliche Hintergrund der derzeitigen Streiks bei der Bahn

Arg strapaziert wird derzeit der Geduldsfaden der Bahnkunden – über Tage hinweg legten Gewerkschaften den Bahnverkehr mit Streiks lahm. Da eine Einigung der Lokführergewerkschaft GdL bzw. der Eisenbahnergewerkschaft EVG mit der Deutschen Bahn noch immer nicht in Sicht ist, ist zudem bis Weihnachten mit weiteren Streiks zu rechnen.

Doch was ist der Hintergrund der verhärteten Fronten? Neben den üblichen „Streik“punkten Gehalt und Arbeitszeit, geht es dieses Mal um eine ganz grundsätzliche Frage: Welche Gewerkschaft verhandelt für welche Berufsgruppe (z.B. die der Bordgastronomen), wenn sich in beiden Gewerkschaften Angehörige dieser Berufsgruppe finden? Die Gewerkschaften GdL und EVG konnten sich im … Continue Reading

Conciliation travail-famille – endeavour to achieve a work life balance in Quebec

In Quebec, time devoted to paid work has considerably increased over the years. Moreover, the number of single-parent families and households where both spouses work is growing. Consequently, we are left with an increasing imbalance between work and family obligations. Quebec is no exception to this rule. Indeed, the Bureau de Normalisation du Québec (BNQ) acknowledged that the province is dealing with a widespread work-life imbalance.

Consequently, it comes as no surprise that it has become standard for employers to publicize the work-life balance that they offer.

In response to this dilemma, Quebec instituted the four-level Work-Family Balance accreditation in … Continue Reading

Civil and criminal proceedings under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

The fallout has continued from the industrial dispute between building company Grocon and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), which culminated in a major blockade in Melbourne’s central business district in August 2012, with the Full Federal Court partially allowing an appeal by the CFMEU against a decision that would have permitted the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate (FWBII) to proceed with its civil prosecution of the CFMEU in relation to the blockade (the FWBII Proceedings).

In the first instance decision of Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Continue Reading

May a call to strike be distributed via the employer’s intranet?

The German Federal Labour Court recently held that an employee is not entitled to use an email account that has been provided to him by his or her employer for official work purposes in order to distribute a strike call within the company.

In the case at issue, the German trade union ver.di decided to call for a warning strike at a hospital. An employee of the hospital, who served as chairman of the hospital´s works council and member of the trade union, ver.di, forwarded the call over his work email account via the hospital´s intranet to all hospital employees … Continue Reading

Worker´s Councils and the new forms of Venezuelan Employment

This post was contributed by Valentina Albarrán, Associate, Norton Rose Fulbright Caracas

A few months after the 1st year anniversary of the Venezuelan New Labor Law the legislative body has proven itself to be a modern take on the Pandora´s Box myth.

Of the many controversial aspects of the law, there is still one that hasn´t been widely discussed or even yet fully implemented, thus it remains a mystery.

The aspect in question is the one included in articles 497 and 498 of the New Labor Law, regarding the creation of the Worker´s Councils.

According to the Organic … Continue Reading

Strike ballots struck out of Labour Relations Amendment Bill

After surviving a three year consultation process and hefty deliberations in the National Economic Development and Labour Council, strike ballot provisions were voted out of the Labour Relations Amendment Bill by Parliament’s labour committee last week.

The provisions, which were intended to amend the sections regulating workers’ right to strike in the Labour Relations Act made it a procedural requirement for the majority of a union’s members to vote in favour of a strike.  The proposed amendment was lauded by the business community as being a potential solution to the violent strikes that have characterised the last few years.  … Continue Reading

The ongoing dispute over the Victorian Building & Construction Code and Guidelines

Eco Recyclers Pty Ltd (Eco), a contractor that performs demolition work in the construction industry, has become drawn into a larger dispute between the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Victorian Government, in relation to the Government’s “Implementation Guidelines to the Victorian Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry” (the Guidelines), which, along with the Code of Practice itself, applies to construction work undertaken for the Victorian Government.

The Code and Guidelines specify that any expression of interest or request for tender must include an undertaking to apply the Code … Continue Reading

Minister’s extension of minimum wage agreement is unlawful

This post was contributed by Kate Paterson

The High Court has overturned a decision by the Minister of Labour to extend a collective agreement in the textile industry to non-parties to the bargaining council.

The agreement set out the minimum wages that employers who were parties to the agreement had to pay their employees.  The extension meant that employers who were not parties to the agreement now also had to pay these wages.  The recent judgment declared the decision to be invalid retrospectively because the Minister had not properly applied her mind to the decision-making process.

This is the second Continue Reading

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