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Trade unions, labor law, working conditions and industrial relations - Poland


Trade unions are active in Poland since the 1950's. Their primarily activity was directed towards the needs of the personnel: distribution of places in vacation camps, distribution of potatoes in winter... But since the creation of Solidarnosc in 1980, the trade unions have played a powerful role, stronger than in any other communist country.

But since the end of 1980, the power of the trade unions has considerably fallen, the rate of membership falling from 80 % to less than 14 % in 2003. The trade unions continue however to be relatively influential, especially in the national policy and in public firms.

Trade unions

Poland has two main trade unions: The National Alliance of the trade unions (Ogólnopolskie Porozumienie Zwiazków Zawodowych, OPZZ) and the Independent and autonomous Trade union "Solidarinosc" (Niezalezny Samorzadny Zwiazek Zawodowy Solidarnosc, NSZZ Solidarnosc). Strongly established in the public sector, OPZZ is a left-wing trade union, while the NSZZ Solidarnosc is oriented to the right. It is one of the actors of the success of the shock therapy, because it imposed social measures accompagnying restructurations, lay-offs, price liberalization and other radical measures.

The Forum of the trade unions (Forum Zwiazków Zawodowych, FZZ) is a new trade union grouping in 2002 thirty-six trade unions and one thousand and three hundred members, primarily recruited from the OPZZ. There are also federations of trade unions active in specific sectors, which existed during the Communism. The employers are gathered in three organizations: the Confederation of the Polish employers, which is the most significant, as well as the Business Centers Club and the Polish economic Room.

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