ECC members of the General Union began negotiations for the 2021 year in March 2021. Members had already spent one year negotiating regularly over company measures regarding the pandemic and were keen to begin negotiating for real changes to their working conditions.
Top on the agenda for change were the working conditions for a new contract type introduced five years prior. The new contract type had many conditions that were meant to purposely thwart the benefits of the “unlimited term contracts” which began in 2018 after changes to the Labour Contract Law.
The new contract type included longer working hours, purposely replaced pay increases with yearly bonuses, increased yearly working days, and limited the contract to four renewals. The company showing their true intent also forbade pay increases for those on the previous contract type who had applied for unlimited term contracts.
Starting this year’s negotiations, the union’s focus was on the poor working conditions in the new contract type, and to stop the company undermining unlimited term contract provisions in the law. Members who had spent the year literally putting their lives on the line for the company by remaining at work during the pandemic were tired of the company’s worsening of working conditions and were prepared to strike.
Negotiations continued over many months,and many strike dates were postponed as the company backed off the worst of the working conditions little by little, but still trying to give the least possible to avert a strike.
In the end, members were finally able to win some major and minor improvements.
- a small one time payment for all in recognition of the hard work that employees did during the pandemic
- an additional set bonus for new contract workers in their fourth and fifth years (this would normally have been zero)
- the end to the four renewal limit
- the withdrawal of the pay increase ban for unlimited term contract workers
Most of all, the company agreed to immediate negotiations for 2022 working conditions starting in December of this year. We will be discussing and negotiating changes in the new contract type. This where the union will fight to win more important concessions.
- reduction in yearly working days
- *end of the “bonus-not-wage-increase” system for new hires
- *pay increase for all irregular workers at the company.
Hats off to ECC members who stuck together to win improvements that benefit all of us working at private language schools.