How do trade unions work? What are their rights and abilities?


The trade union represents workers in the workplace. What does it mean? When an employer wants to make decisions about employees, e.g. about collective or disciplinary redundancies, changes in working conditions or remuneration rules, it can do so only with the union’s consent (if these decisions will apply to union members). The union may demand changes on behalf of employees, such as pay raises or shorter working hours. The trade union may organise a strike if the employer does not want to negotiate and does not agree to the employees’ proposals. Only a trade union can carry out a legal strike.

In addition, the trade union has its share in decisions on the distribution of funds from the Company’s Social Benefits Fund. In workplaces with a trade union, the employer must agree with the employees on how to spend these funds. In addition, the trade union can apply for the creation of the Fund in smaller companies of at least 20 full-time employees (the Fund is mandatory for establishments employing at least 50 people).

The trade union also represents its members individually in cases of discrimination and other individual problems with the employer. It can also represent union members in the labour court. That means that, as union members, we do not have to take on the burden of fighting for our own.

Members of the union have access to information on the (economic) situation of the workplace. They can check compliance with health and safety rules and participate in and receive the results of the Labour Inspection controls. The members of the union’s board are exceptionally protected, and it is challenging to fire them legally.

The more employees a union represents, the greater its strength. When one or more organisations associate the majority of the establishment’s employees, the employer must consider their vote.