How to achieve a collective agreement in your workplace?
A collective agreement is an agreement between a company and a national union, for example Fellesforbundet, and ensures you a minimum of benefits at the workplace. This eight step guide may help you towards achieving a collective agreement in your workplace.
1. Talk with your colleague
Firstly, talk with your workmates. Perhaps you are not the only one who wants well organised working conditions and a collective agreement?
2. Make contact with Fellesforbundet
Fellesforbundet have local departments all over the country, with long experience with how to best make a collective agreement with employers. Your local department can give you advice and support. See contact information here.
3. Elect a local union representative/shop steward
When you are more than one member of Fellesforbundet at the workplace, you should elect a local union rep (or several). The local union rep(s) will be the contact person(s) between the local members and the Fellesforbundet local office. When a collective agreement is in place the local rep(s)will be the contact between you as the local union and the management.
4. The more the merrier
More members at the workplace means a stronger position when we apply for a collective agreement. Fellesforbundet has as a rule of thumb that minimum 50 % of the employees must be union members before we apply for a collective agreement. It is therefore important that you present the idea of union membership to all your co-workers.
5. Keep track
It is important to know who the members are when we apply for a collective agreement. Fellesforbundet claims the collective agreement on behalf of the members. That is why it is important to register the new members consecutively. In this way we can keep track of the membership base in your workplace.
6. If your employer opposes a collective agreement
Some preconditions must be in place when Fellesforbundet claims a collective agreement on your behalf in your workplace. A majority of the workers must be union members and you must be willing to fight for you right to a collective agreement. Unfortunately, some employers refuse to sign an agreement, and in some instances, you even have to strike to get an agreement. In other instances, the employer will see the benefits of a collective agreement and sign it right away.
It might be wise to discuss beforehand how you can handle the different reactions of the employer, in order to be prepared for different outcomes.
Fellesforbundet's local departments have long experience in claiming collective agreements in new workplaces. Talk to you local department of Fellesforbundet to get tips and information.
7. When the collective agreement is signed
Congratulations on your achievement, well done!
Once the agreement is in place, you need to inform your employer about who is elected as local union rep(s). All the local members of Fellesforbundet at the workplace now constitute Klubben ("the club", ie. the union at your workplace). The number of union reps with the right to negotiate is dependent on the size (number of members) of your Klubb. Fellesforbundet organises courses for both members and union reps. Throughout the courses you will learn about laws, regulations and how to run a Klubb.
8. The Klubb startup
Now you can start the work for fair wages and working conditions at your workplace. A good starting point is to check that the company follows the collective agreement and other rules and regulations. In the beginning it is wise to concentrate on one area at the time, and preferrably an area that you think is easy to fix and follow up on. If you find an area/problem where many members have an interest, and where you think you can easily negotiate a better solution with the employers, start there. Discuss with the members of your Klubb and use the Fellesforbundet local department as advisors if you need it.