WYSTĄPIENIE DELEGATA PRZEDSIĘBIORCÓW, 
IZABELI OPECHOWSKIEJ - ZWIĄZEK RZEMIOSŁA POLSKIEGO
97 SESJA MIĘDZYNARODOWEJ KONFERENCJI PRACY 12 CZERWCA 2008 R.



Mr Chairman,
Mr Director General,
Ladies & Gentlemen,

it gives me great honour to have the opportunity of representing Polish employers during this year’s, already ninety-seventh session of The International Labour Organisation. Participation in our Conference is both an honour and a cause of great satisfaction, since –as every year – it serves as source of numerous inspirations and initiatives.

Taking into account the Global Report and Report V Skills for improved productivity, employment growth and development I like to share with you situation and our intentions in Poland in this matter. The organization which I represent - the Polish Craft Association - contributes to growth of professional skills among both adults and young people in the secondary schools.

Now in Polish education system we have 101 craft professions can be teached. Our organization wants to change this situation, due to the new trades appearing during globalization time and they should be acknowledged as craft’s professions. The total period of time spent on education, which is required to take the secondary school leaving exam, is twelve to fifteen years. After passing this exam, graduates receive a certificate allowing them to apply for admitting to high schools.

The Polish Employers would like to expand skills among people to create employment growth and sustainable development. At the moment, in the face of high level economic development of 6% GNP, we have problems to find employees for many sectors of the economy. Especially building contractors couldn’t find employees. Because more and more of workers emigrate to West-European countries, where now salaries are higher, taxes are lower and social care is better than in Poland.

In Poland 92% of all enterprises on the market are SMEs, and 89% are micro enterprises, often family companies. The main source of workers and their qualification is craft. Unfortunately, the government put little emphasis on craft’s professions and they cannot become priority for economic development.

We think that too few people in Poland participate in lifelong learning system. Among European countries Poland has to catch up many items in this matter. Still the public consciousness about qualifications, changing professions - even during the unemployment – is insufficient. Every second the Polish, haven’t necessary education in the next year. This shows short sighed and belief, that one’s acquiring education is enough for all live. The Polish Craft Association and employers think that education should be more based on practical skills. Now young people finishing schools are usually not prepared for professional work and they must learn practical skills at work.

In Poland, mainly people with higher qualifications, graduates from universities, specialists, managers and engineers, participate in education, it`s bad situation. However, people with low qualification, the unemployed or to be at risk of unemployed don`t fill in the gaps in one`s education.

Nevertheless, the Polish Employers, put hope on present Government on supporting the economic and employment increase by the several strategies, which will be realized within few near years. We believe that these strategies will be realized in cooperation with the social partners, what is strongly express in Chapter 3, Report V of ILO.

Finally, I would like to say you about the situation of bilateral and tripartite dialogue in Poland. During the last two years, the former government approach didn`t create the atmosphere for better and effective dialogue. Now the situation is changing. First of all, there is good cooperation between employers and the present Government with respect to modifications of the Labor Code, Trade Union Act and industrial dispute (collective bargaining) is noticeable. The objective of such cooperation is to hinder trade unions from organizing illegal strikes. Illegal occupation of companies’ premises will be punished with million worth damages. Nowadays, strike legislation in Poland is unclear and frequently violated. The employers’ initiative in the Tripartite Committee concerning on a labour low and industrial relations is as follows:
- put real trade unions` representation selected for negotiation with the employer (only the trade unions representing at least one third of staff),
- reduction in strike freedom (50% of staff in favor of a strike instead of 25% as it has been so far),
- specifying the body clearly (Social Labor Inspection or Labor Court) to rule whether a strike is legal or not.

Major trade organizations are in favor of the changes, minor ones are against. The Government has announced that the settlements between the major trade unions and employees in Tripartite Committee will be included in the collective bargaining bill. Generally speaking, situation in tripartite dialogue is better than in bilateral. No autonomous dialogue as one of the most important challenges that social partners have to face has been observed in Poland yet. Many issues cannot be solved without nation-wide social discussions, which will particularly concern pay, pension reform and health care system.

Thank you for your attention.