22 Sep 2021

The fourth MIGRIGHT project workshop: Cooperation of social partners for decent work conditions and social rights of foreigners

The fourth workshop implemented in the framework of the “MIGRIGHT: Improving social dialogue for decent work of migrants and refugees in Poland” project took place on 16-17th September.

The first day of the workshop was dedicated to the cooperation of social partners on improving working conditions and the social rights of foreigners. The case study on tripartite sectoral programmes for ensuring decent working conditions was presented by the representative of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO). The purpose of these programmes is to mobilise employers' and workers' organisations and the authorities to jointly document and address commonly identified challenges in the areas of working conditions, safety and health, social dumping and undeclared work. The programmes include sectors with a large proportion of migrant workers such as freight and leisure transport, the cleaning sector, restaurants and catering, and car wash and repairs. The role of the Labour Inspectorate, as the key representative of the authorities, was crucial for the implementation of the programmes.

After the presentation, the participants commented and discussed the legal and organizational framework for transferring the Norwegian experience to Poland. One of the conclusions was that social partners in Poland could apply similar solutions as in Norway. The legal framework for social dialogue in Poland provides for the possibility to extend the collective agreements to cover a whole sector. This, in turn, could help to secure decent working conditions, including minimum wage, working hours, safety and health care issues. One of the sectors for such cooperation could be the hotel industry. In addition, the participants agreed that if the Polish Labour Inspectorate was to play a similar role to that in Norway, it would need to be provided with additional financial and personnel resources.

In the second part of this workshop session, the problem of social rights and the presence of foreigners in the Polish social security system was presented by the representative of the Social Insurance Institution in Poland (ZUS). The share of foreigners in the total number of insured in ZUS increased significantly along with the rapid growth of foreigners on the labour market. As of 31 December 2020, the share of foreigners in the total number of insured in ZUS was 4.6%, compared to 1% in 2008-2014. One of the factors could be some improvement of working conditions offered to migrants, e.g. by concluding more labour contracts and civil contracts providing social security benefits than in the previous years.

Differently from the previous session, during the second day of the workshop, the participants met in person. In the beginning, they discussed in groups the issue of barriers in social dialogue. The first group focused on barriers of a structural and cognitive nature. In turn, the second group talked over the barriers in communication, as well as the role played in this context by culture and tradition of social dialogue. The participants agreed, among other things, that we need better education that promotes a more cooperative attitude in society, more honesty in communication between social partners, and specific mechanisms for ensuring that the agreements reached through the social dialogue are respected.

The problem of human trafficking for forced labour in the context of the situation of foreigners in Poland was presented by a representative of La Strada – Foundation Against Trafficking In Persons And Slavery in the second part of this workshop. The presentation was followed by a vivid discussion with participants that concluded by forming several recommendations. Some of these propositions pointed to the need to work on the definition of forced labour in the International Labour Organisation, to conduct awareness-raising activities for foreigners, and to distribute the educational materials in Polish consulates in the migrants’ home countries, at border crossings, railway stations and airports.

The leader of the MIGRIGHT project is the Federation of Polish Entrepreneurs and the partners are the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions, CASE – Centre for Social and Economic Research, and NHO. The MIGRIGHT project is implemented with support from Norway through the Norwegian Funds 2014–2021, under the programme “Social Dialogue – Decent Work”.


Written by Oskar Chmiel