This is not the only change to the collective bargaining system in Portugal that has been or is planned. Two amendments allowing for greater decentralisation have already been incorporated into the Labour Law, which entered into force in August 2012. In the past, inter-branch negotiations between employers` organisations and trade unions have been the most important element of Portuguese collective bargaining. Company-level agreements apply to far fewer employers. Traditionally, Portugal enjoys a high level of tariff coverage, thanks in part to the government`s extension of the agreements. However, this high level is threatened by system changes under the pressure of the economic crisis. The same was true of the competitiveness and employment agreement signed by the government, employers and the UGT, but not by the CGTP-IN in March 2011. Another crisis management agreement in January 2012, which included high flexibility, fewer public holidays, reduced redundancy payments and lower but larger unemployment benefits, was also only signed by the UGT on the union side.6 An amendment allows unions to delegate collective bargaining to company bodies in smaller companies than in the past. Until August 2012, these bodies, which may be works councils or trade union bodies at company level, only had the possibility of negotiating in companies employing at least 500 people. This has been reduced to 150.
In detail, collective agreements now expire five years after their last agreement or five years after one of the parties has stated that it wants to renegotiate the terms. However, the provisions of the collective agreement still apply at least 18 months later, so that negotiations can take place. In addition, each party has 12 months to request the Minister to appoint an arbitrator to develop new conditions. The government seems to want to amend these agreements and facilitate the loss of validity of the agreements. In the past, this enlargement was almost automatic. However, as part of the agreements reached in the context of Portugal`s financial rescue, the government agreed, initially, to set new criteria for the extension of the agreements (in May 2011) and then to use their discretion to not renew the agreements until clear criteria were established. . .
Categorised in: Uncategorized