Unions are becoming increasingly prevalent across Asia. This month, as the first of a two-part series on this topic, we take a look at which aspects of the employment relationship unions may be involved in in Singapore, Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China (PRC).
WHAT ASPECTS OF THE EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP CAN UNIONS BE INVOLVED IN?
Trade unions are usually involved in negotiating collective agreements (or memorandums of understanding which are the precursor to a collective agreement).
Trade unions can also represent executive employees on an individual basis in certain prescribed situations.
In addition, unions may represent employees in unfair dismissal complaints and specific salary related claims. Unions must also be notified of and consulted with on transfers of employment.
Where trade unions are active they are usually involved in organising industrial action, such as strikes, picketing and go-slow or work-to-rule campaigns, and in negotiating working terms and conditions with employers on behalf of members.
It is useful to note that there is no legislative regime governing collective bargaining and collective agreements in Hong Kong and no statutory recognition of collective bargaining agreements. Even if a trade union enters into an agreement with the employer, the employee can only rely on the terms of the agreement if those terms become part of an individual employee's contract of employment.
Trade unions are usually involved in negotiations with employers on the implementation or revision of rules and regulations affecting employees, and on the terms of collective labour contracts. Trade unions must also be consulted before employers are able to implement an 'economic layoff'.
Additionally, trade unions may participate in employee work injury investigations and labour dispute mediations. Trade unions can also review disciplinary action taken by employers against employees and potential breaches by employers of their obligations. Trade unions can also be involved in industrial action such as strikes.
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