What will be the main issues at the start of the new school year?
Roberto Mendolia: I have a non-exhaustive list of about 50 points. The biggest task will be to provide support and information to the staff delegations following the signing of the collective agreement on 10 June. Another important issue is that of teleworking and the payment of the compensation of €25 per month. This demand was obtained on 31 March and applies to those with an agreement. But we want to extend this compensation to non-agreement holders, as stipulated in the CES agreement on telework.
There is also the question of social leave, which has yet to be defined in the context of employers’ social responsibility. We are working on this and we will try to extend this leave. We will continue to work on the issue of working time, but also on the indexation of support premiums. I am not going to list all the points, but there is also the definition of the right to disconnect, the definition of places without natural light, the issue of false executives, etc.
Finally, another major battle that I will be fighting is the problem of payment for statutory holidays. Aleba is the only one fighting on this issue, but I must admit that I am confident.
Some companies want to impose the covid vaccine on employees as a condition for returning to the office. Aleba has already made its opposition known…
We will follow this matter very closely. There is a risk of violating the private rights of individuals. Last May, we had already worked on the issue by asking our lawyers for a legal opinion which is very clear. For the time being, there is no anti-covid law that makes vaccination in companies compulsory in Luxembourg. Consequently, the employer cannot force an employee to be vaccinated or even to present a vaccination certificate. Vaccination is a matter of personal freedom to have propriety over one’s body and private life. The same applies to recruitment: an applicant is not obliged to indicate their vaccination status, and an employer cannot keep a list of their staff according to vaccination status. It is forbidden to sanction an employee who refuses to be vaccinated and, conversely, to promote an employee because they have been vaccinated.
In our eyes, there are clearly fundamentals that are being violated.
Will the question of the loss of national representation also keep you busy until the end of the year?
The fight will continue, and the case is in the hands of the courts. We are waiting for the opinion of the International Labour Organisation. Last June, I gave evidence to the ILO to explain the real discrimination suffered by trade unions that do not have the “national” title in Luxembourg. I also explained my opinion on the fact that Luxembourg’s laws are designed to favour national trade unions to the detriment of free trade union competition. We are faced with a succession of badly drafted laws, [drafted] in a hurry in 2004, and it is sometimes shocking to read certain phrases in the parliamentary proceedings of the time. All that has passed and, over the years, rights have been taken away. Worse still, a transcription of the law was not done correctly! This puts Aleba at a disadvantage once again. I am convinced that we will win our case because, in our eyes, there are clearly fundamental rights that are being violated.
You also want to bring a little more visibility to Aleba…
There is a phenomenon of de-unionisation in Luxembourg, no doubt due to the health crisis. I think this is a phenomenon that affects all trade unions, and it is important to remember the importance of trade unionism, and especially the work that is done by trade unions on a daily basis. I am always surprised to meet people who don’t know what a trade union is for, let alone the work we do.
Does this mean that you have seen a drop in your membership numbers?
Our numbers are stable. We had an increase in membership in 2020 before we saw a slight decrease at the end of this winter. There is no danger of this happening. But state aid, teleworking and short-time working have given people a sense of security and they have sometimes drifted away from trade unions. We have to get closer to them and answer their questions and queries. We may be less vocal than in other countries, but we are working.
So it’s going to be a busy autumn?
Our agendas are indeed filling up.
This article was originally published in Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.