Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund

20.02.2024

Posting and going abroad for work are still mixed up in people’s heads

Training Vasas

Vasas

By Anna Debreczeni

The Hungarian Metalworkers’ Federation, VASAS is one of the oldest and the largest sectoral trade union in the private sector in Hungary. Its 20 thousand active members come mainly from the automotive industry and from machine construction, and also from electronics and the steel industry.

VASAS has contact with a lot of German companies in Hungary from the automotive industry, that often post their employees, mainly to Germany.

VASAS is known for its strong educational activity and trainings. They hold a dozens of smaller trainings every year, and have two big events, of which the summer university attracts 100-150 participants, but the sectoral trainings also draw in 80-100 people each.

When VASAS joined Fair European Labour Mobility project (FELM) in 2018, consultation was their main profile. It was later suggested by VASAS to incorporate a training about posting in the program, to reach even more people. They do not provide consultations any more, but are still available in individual cases, when someone needs help.

There is work to be done

„What we often see is that the concept of posting and going abroad for work are mixed up in people’s heads,” said Balázs Bábel, VASAS’s vice president and international relations expert. 

He also clarified this right away. „When I am on a business trip abroad, I’m still employed by the Hungarian VASAS. When someone is posted abroad, he or she is in employment contract with a Hungarian company, but he or she carries out his or her work located temporarily at another (foreign) company.”

Eventually, both Hungarian and for example German employment law have to be taken into account for this period. „We are familiar with the Hungarian law, and we consult with our partner office in Germany in these cases. When Hungarian workers are in a foreign country, they can turn to local consuelors, who speak Hungarian and know the German law for example.”

Surprising cases

They held 26 trainings since July 2022 with almost 400 participants, in various subjects, such as communication or legal affairs. When they hold a training about posting they present the main rules of posting in the sending and receiving country (which is Austria or Germany in this project), but also the basics of work law, and they also inform the participants how trade unions and DGB counselling network Faire Mobilität can help them if needed. 

„During the trainings we try to make workers aware of their rights, what they should be prepared for, what they should not tolerate at all, and even the costs of working abroad. When they get to know us once, they can reach us easier later if needed,” said Bettina Kiss, VASAS’s expert on posting.

After many years of working in the field of posting, they still encounter cases that surprise them.

„Our experience is that many workers come to us when it’s too late, and it’s much harder to mend the situation,”  highlighted Bettina Kiss. „For example, they reach for us when their employment is already terminated, and they are sent home. Someone signed a document once that the work accident was his fault because he didn’t respect the work protection rules. Or someone signed that the employment was terminated by mutual agreement and he or she has no further claim against the employer, even tough he or she did not receive the remuneration.”

„We always advise posted workers not to sign anything before consulting with us, especially when it is in a foreign language”,  underlines Balázs Bábel as well.

Their trainings are usally held in person, not online „People prefer this way, they have always a lot of questions, bring their employment contract and other documents to these occasions and ask for our opininon. We always receive lots of questions in the end, so trainings usally turn into group consulting sessions.”

Trust in trade unions

Even though in many cases the sending and the receiving company is of the same company or group of companies, but workers tend to trust more the trade union related counselling centre than their employer’s HR. „People turn to us with trust, they are less likely to pose the questions to company HR department that they are asking us,” said Bettina Kiss. This is because the HR is less likely to be in the position to answer everyday questions such as if a worker needs to leave home on Sunday in order to be at work on Monday, then does this count in working time, or is the company paying for their public transport ticket.

VASAS’s colleagues emphasized that training is useful at any phase of a career. If someone attends a training even once about his or her labor rights and the basics of posting, this knowledge will then be useful in their later carreer too at another company or as a freelancer.


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