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(en) Slovakia, priama akcia: How we dealt with the problems at work: Disputes of Direct Action 2015-2019 part IV. (4/4) [machine translation]

Date Fri, 8 May 2020 09:13:18 +0300


RESULT AND STATEMENTS OF WORKERS ---- Martin got exactly what he asked for. He received an account of € 201. He later wrote to us: ---- It cost a lot of effort, but it was worth what I'm very grateful for. ---- Mia did not receive her money, but she wrote us (as well as Maja) her statement: ---- Mia: ---- "I do not want to deal with it anymore. We went there for half a year and it didn't move anywhere, but thank you to everyone who helped me. I will not forget that you helped me. Thank you very much again. " ---- Maja: ---- "Thank you for your direct action for taking up this dispute at my instigation. I really appreciate it, I learned a lot new and I hope there will be an opportunity to help you in some way. " ---- Jakub expressed his impressions in a more extensive interview. ---- Why did you decide to solve the problem in working with our association?

I have known the Direct Action Association for at least five years and I have always supported it because I sympathize with its activities. I believe that mutual assistance and solidarity is what can help people to fight the injustices that arise in today's system. Another reason why I solved the problem with PA was that solving anything with the boss was on a long elbow even when she claimed that she was willing to solve the matter. I knew I wouldn't achieve anything on my own, so I preferred to contact PA.

To many people, it may seem strange or even suspicious that they have not solved the problem in court. Have you met such an opinion in your surroundings? What do you think?

I did not talk much about the problem with the bistro to people around me, and with what they knew about it, I explained in advance why I think it is better to solve it with Direct Action rather than in court, and at the same time what are the disadvantages of solving in court. It is primarily the time the dispute stretches and the nerves around it. Especially with regard to the Slovak judiciary.

One of our conditions was that you would be active and that we would not do things for you. Can you tell if there was a difference between your idea of your own activity at the beginning and what it all involved in the end, for example in terms of time and the need to respond to the development of the problem?

Since I know how PA dispute resolution works, there was no difference between my imagination and reality. Of course, preparing for a dispute and resolving details are not a matter of telling info and I don't care, so they take a lot of time and require a lot of detailed work and patience. However, if we want to achieve something in society, we must work on it TOGETHER.:)

What was the most difficult thing for you while solving the problem?

The most difficult was the time consumption of these activities. It was not an extreme, but given that I have a program and responsibilities almost every day from morning to evening, it was sometimes quite difficult to fit in the resolution of dispute activities.

How did you feel about asking for money for hours you didn't take?

At first, I didn't even plan to ask for it, but when I found out from the people in Direct Action that it was possible (and it was supported by law), I also agreed to this possibility. It felt strange to me at first, but then I remembered my boss's sentence that she would determine how much I would do, which came to me at that time as a decent scum.

How did you experience the joint delivery of the request letter in the bistro? What was encouraging or stressful for you?

Nervousness was there, of course, but I don't know why I should be afraid to ask for what belongs to me. The encouraging moment was the support from the people who came with me to submit a letter of request. I appreciate it very much and I was pleased that people know how to show solidarity and not just close themselves into their world of egoism. Another positive moment was that I saw my colleagues again.:)

The stressful moment, apart from the handover as such, was the handing over of the letter to the establishment, with whom I also have a good relationship and I did not want her to take it as an attack on her person. On the other hand, I believe she understood what it was all about.

We know that at one point the owner chose a typical tactic of employers: she began to intimidate and threaten with criminal reporting, which is always annoying. How did you feel about it? What advice would you give to others in this situation?

I didn't like it, but I expected it. Filing criminal reports is a common tactic of employers in disputes with PA. From what I know, these have always been fabrications that have no basis. In my case, this was doubly true, as the campaign had not even started yet. Despite the threats, the boss did not file a criminal complaint.

I would advise others not to be afraid, because if they ask for what belongs to them, they certainly do not act illegally.

How did you react when your boss sent you more money than you asked for (or what did you think about it)?

She announced this in her last e-mail. I was surprised, but I didn't believe it until the amount came to my account. But I didn't want to make money on the bistro (where, by the way, there are still colleagues I like, and I didn't want and don't want it to have any negative impact on them), so I immediately returned the "surplus" to it. .

So how did you feel about sending you more?

She pretended to be a show of kindness and generosity on her part, but in the context of the whole e-mail, I felt as if she had put me in the position of a poor man who "doesn't even have a coat." I'm not a case for charity. I just asked what belonged to me.

What would you do to someone with a similar problem?

Not only to someone with a similar problem, but to anyone who has or has had problems at work, I would advise them to deal with it and not to accept injustice from bosses or management. In gastronomy, but also in other industries, employees should be in the first place, because they make a profit to the boss. Let them get used to not being able to afford and do whatever they want with the employees.

DISPUTES IN NUMBERS

Lozano Pub

Space Mania

bistro

Length of dispute (since submission of request letter) in days

14

63

19

Number of solidarity emails sent (known to us)

4

58

0

Amount due (in €)

201

222.44

584.61

Amount won (in €)

201

0

584.61

WHY ARE WE SUCCESSFUL IN TWO DISPUTES AND NOT ONCE?

Success depends above all on adhering to an agreed strategy. The reasons for non-compliance with the Space Mania agreement may also appear in other disputes and can probably never be completely avoided. They relate in particular to doubts on the part of workers, which arise, for example, from the following issues:

"Will the dispute really be resolved, even though there is no visible shift even after weeks of activity?"

It is understandable to look at things from a time point of view. The dispute can take several months and eventually end in success. For example, our dispute with OZ Divé maky lasted 86 days and ended with the payment of the required € 950 owed.

It is also interesting to watch when companies surrender. It has happened to us several times that it was very shortly after they emphatically stated that they would not back down under any circumstances. So it pays to stick to a direct action strategy that works.

"Are the documents on the basis of which we prepared the requirements really convincing enough?"

It is different when one is in dispute over an amount confirmed by the company itself (dispute with Lozano Pub), and when the company claims from the beginning that the amount in the claim is meaningless (dispute with Space Mania and the bistro). Even though people know that the truth is on their side, over time they may have doubts. They delve into negative reflections and feel as if they are standing before a court and have to have bulletproof proof of their truth, although in some cases it is more "word for word".

Although we base our disputes on evidence that would also succeed in the courts, the direct action strategy needs to be considered differently. The point is that it is the workers (and not the courts) who determine what is a legitimate and fair demand. And that they win it over with their activity, not by relying on someone else.

In addition to factors that are rather subjective or psychological, market competition can also play an important role. More precisely, how business owners perceive competition . They attach different importance to their image, which can be reflected in their stubbornness or flexibility and thus in the length of the dispute.

Lozano Pub hosted third-party events and the company knew they could move elsewhere in case of problems, not to mention that there were other dining options in the area. The bistro was similar, as there were plenty of competing facilities in the area.

On the contrary, at the time of the dispute, Space Mania was essentially the only space of its kind in Senec. Even if cooperation with third parties were abolished, parents would have no choice. So while in a pizzeria and bistro the threat of long-term money loss took up relatively quickly, in this case the boss could tell herself that major profit problems would not come soon, because people with small children would always end up in Space Mania. However, the cafe was not very profitable and it was likely that sooner or later the boss would not have a choice and as a result of repeated protests, he would still have to pay the money he owed.

GASTRO - MANY PROBLEMS, BUT ALSO WILLING TO FIGHT

It is typical for the restaurant industry that it saves significantly on wages, and thus on the workforce. There are, of course, more similar industries. From our experience, however, we can say that it was in the gastronomy that we encountered problems most often. At the same time, he had the most people who showed a determination not to get swept away.

However, these were people who no longer worked in companies, or their departure was only a matter of time. Organizing in cases where they do in companies and still plan to do, would look different and such an experience awaits us.

For the people with whom we resolved disputes, it was therefore true that at the same time they were looking for another job in order to quickly resolve the loss of income, or they already had a new job. They had to set aside time for planning and activities and also take into account possible stress. Nevertheless, they did not give up and stood up to the leadership, which is a positive signal that even if people are in a bad situation, they can be active and fight successfully.

As for the characteristics and typical problems in this sector, we looked at them more closely and wrote them down in brief. We do not consider the following list to be complete and we will only be happy if you help us to supplement and improve it in the future, especially if you work in gastronomy.

General points

Low wages, and therefore relatively low amounts owed.
At first glance, it might seem that it is not "worthwhile" for workers to fight for them. The opposite is true. We know of disputes abroad over large sums, but our struggles also involved sums barely over € 200. We believe that people were willing to fight for these relatively low amounts also because they knew about our previous disputes, from which it was clear that we could succeed.

High fluctuation.
Although this factor does not affect the entry into a dispute with the gastronomic operation when the worker no longer works in it, organizing in such an environment is difficult. But that's everywhere. If we also mean dismissal by fluctuation, then it is also possible to dismiss someone (whether legally or illegally) everywhere. However, finding a full-fledged replacement quickly is difficult, and many gastronomic companies are aware of this.

Simple structure of social relations in the workplace.
The business usually has a boss / owner, operator and employees. The relationships that arise in this triangle usually turn against the workers in the form of emotional or social coercion . (This pressure from distorted "friendly" relationships with management is sometimes so strong that it can negatively affect workers even when they no longer work for the company.) intimidated, the whole collective "suffers".

Points concerning employment and wages

Low awareness of the rights and obligations of workers and companies.
As for companies, they may just seem to be playing it, but it's not always the case - sometimes they don't really know what they're saying. As far as workers are concerned, it is always good to know the laws. Ignorance of what I am entitled to can cause me not to solve my problem. There are many sites on the Internet that provide valuable legal advice in a comprehensible way. It is not the best solution to rely solely on them if you are interested in going to a dispute, but they will certainly serve to increase legal awareness of whether the law is being violated in the workplace.

Frequent occurrence of invalid, resp. incomplete employment contracts.
Again, it can be about amateur companies, but also about intention. At the same time, it is sufficient that one of the essential or regular elements of the employment contract is missing and this may have a negative effect on working or wage conditions. We wrote about this in more detail after the dispute with the bistro in an article from March 2019 entitled "Unpaid wages and wage compensation - what about that?".

Faulty or non-existent payslips.
We also described this problem in the article mentioned above, so only in a nutshell - the payslip is another official document and proof of how much money you receive. It can be compared with the data in the contract and the time actually worked. Any discrepancies can be used against the company in case of a dispute.

Opaque records of hours worked.
Yes, time is money and if you do not have an overview of how much you work, you do not know if you are getting the right salary. If there are fewer hours worked on paper than you actually work, the company can pick you up at any time and pay you less. Documentary evidence will be on the side of the company, which does not mean that there is no chance to win the remaining money, but there are bigger complications.

Working for the minimum wage, with the additional money being paid "on hand" , sometimes without documentation at all.
The actual wage owed is then difficult to prove and recover. The problem also lies in the fact that the boss decides how much you get according to your own discretion, the current needs of the company or your mood. It may be the same amount for a long time, but there is no guarantee that it will be like this in a month or that you will get it at all.

Degree of work intensity.
There is not much talk about the degree of work intensity, but it is one of the key points, especially for people who receive the minimum wage. There are six levels of work intensity. For people working on a contract basis, the minimum wage is determined on the basis of the first step (from 1 January 2020 it is € 580 in gross monthly). For others, the degree of work intensity is determined by the type of work and work tasks. You always need to make sure that the company has placed you correctly.

Unpaid work or so-called "test work".
This tactic of companies is often combined with delaying the signing of an employment contract. Sometimes people work this way "for free" for a few days and would rather leave than deal with it.

Health and safety at work (OSH)

Health and safety provisions can be a strong motive for the fight to improve working conditions. The restaurant industry routinely works for change (often more than 8 hours), requires overtime, work in the evening, on weekends and public holidays, and flexibility in jumping for colleagues. These factors can upset the balance between work and personal or family life and cause increased stress.
Work as such is often demanding physically (one is still on one's feet) and mentally (contact with people). In addition, companies have no problem violating occupational health and safety in the area of compliance with mandatory breaks or leave. A separate chapter is also (non) compliance with hygiene regulations.

STATISTICS

The Statistical Office defines as restaurant and hospitality activities the following: restaurant activities and mobile food sales, food delivery and other hospitality services and services. When we talk about the restaurant industry, we mean these activities.

The number of employees in restaurants and inns has been rising in recent years, and at the time of publishing the brochure, they employed almost 50,000 people.

The average wage in restaurants and inns is close to the minimum wage. The data for the years 2018 and 2019 show that during the year it increased slightly, but to the level of the minimum wage, respectively. it did not get slightly above it until the second half of both years. The data in the table show the average gross wage not reduced by statutory or employee-agreed deductions (business income is not included in this amount). The minimum wage in the economy was € 480 in 2018 and € 520 in 2019. Quarters in which the average wage is lower than the minimum could be explained by part-time work. However, it is clear that official wages in this sector are extremely low.

2018

2019

1st quarter

459

496

2nd quarter

461

519

3rd quarter

477

526

4th quarter

494

at the time of publication of the publication without data

GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the recurring problems we had to deal with during disputes (not only) in the restaurant industry, we wrote a short list of recommendations. We mention them because if they follow them, they may have a better chance of success if they want to solve some problems.

Exactly mark your actual working time and time related to the work as such: hours worked, work during weekends and holidays, visits to a doctor or the Czech Republic, holidays, PN-ss ... In the case of holidays and PN-sek, of course, days will suffice, in other In some cases, minutes are also important.

Always try to have all information about work and wages in writing .

Keep all the documents related to money. Archive e-mails, SMS or other communication with management.

Payroll is an obligation. Always ask her and don't let yourself be beaten. If something doesn't suit you, ask for an explanation. Accidental errors may occur on the payroll, but there may also be intentional accounting practices that are good to check to make sure they don't hurt you.

If you receive money illegally, for example in an envelope on which the responsible person also writes an amount or anything else, keep the envelopes. If you're signing something, try to think about how to get proof of it (such as a photo). And while making money illegally may suit you, it's always worth considering how to make it a legal income. The official amount of income depends, for example, on your chance to obtain a mortgage, but also on the amount of social benefits, including PN, OCR, maternity and pension.

We recommend taking management information with caution as to how the company is doing (especially if they claim to be wrong). They share them with the intention of achieving theirs. Don't forget that they have their business plans, ideas about the development of the company and their goal is to make money - in other words, to get as much money from you as possible for as little money as possible. They give the impression that you are on the same ship, but you probably know that this is not the case.

If something annoys you at work, look for more information in the Labor Code, the Act on Safety and Health at Work or in other sources.
Finally, we would like to encourage everyone who works (not only) in the restaurant industry to solve their problems in the workplace and not give up, even though the situation may seem seemingly unsolvable. It is not good to rely on labor inspectorates or courts, nor to be trampled on. You can solve problems at work with your own activity.

And if you have managed something similar to ours in the workplace, write to us about it. We will be happy to publish it to give courage and inspiration to other workers.

https://www.priamaakcia.sk/Ako-sme-si-poradili-s-problemami-v-praci-Spory-Priamej-akcie-2015-2019.html
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