New collective agreements were agreed at the end of April for the private market. They came into immediate effect with a 17,000kr raise. Some employers tried to evade it. The head of Capital Hotels offered his staff to accept a wage cut to cancel out the raise, otherwise lose their job.
Efling sent a letter to the manager straight away, and a copy to the business cartel, SA. There were several problems with the layoffs and the rehiring terms of staff. The wage cut was, however, the big issue. The collective agreement clearly states that all wages shall receive a raise, not just the minimum wage. This clause was written into a protocol “on general wages increase” in 2011 and has remained in the agreement with SA since.
The reaction of SA, therefore, was somewhat of a surprise. They rejected complaints about how the wages were terminated, and didn’t waste one word on the efforts of the hotel manager to cancel out the raises.
Was the cartel giving a green light for others to ignore the raise, or even the collective agreement in general?
The central committee of ASÍ, the labour confederation, supported the complaint of Efling and reserved the right for member associations to “declare unilaterally the termination of collective agreement with these employers,” begin new negotiations and “use all available and legal means of coercion […] including strikes.”
But what if it wasn’t a single employer? What if it wasn’t just one hotel manager saying this, but the entire business cartel that signed the agreement?
There was only one solution; to search for more examples via advertisements, and refer the cases to the Efling lawyer. SA was then summoned to a meeting. The campaign, searching for wage and bonus cuts, was run through social media and the papers. It reminded people of the raises and the limited rights of bosses to fiddle with wages. It was a reminder to both sides.
At the meeting with SA, representatives of Efling had a detailed discussion with SA emissaries on the purpose of collective agreements and rules on mass layoffs. To conclude the amtter, SA sent a letter to its members, reminding them that it was “important for the negotiated wage changes” to be delivered “with no cuts”. Those wage cuts which had tekan place “directly referencing the new collective agreements” were an “unfortunate reference”.
Efling welcomed this unreserved concession of principle, but the hotel manager maintained his policy and lied to his staff about the statements of Efling and SA. Thus they were surprised to hear, through Polish and English statements by the union, of the facts of the case, significantly different from their boss’ words. This isn’t the first time that linguistic isolation is used to keep foreign staff from vital information flows, with the aim of depriving them of their rights.
The case of the hotel manager and other companies identified in the campaign are now being processed by the union’s lawyer and its organizing division.