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Labor Relations News Update February 18, 2015

 Today’s Labor Updates:

The United Steelworkers’ record of betrayal

Germany: Employers must expect an increase in the number of reviews of employees’ working hours by the occupational health and safety authorities.

Oil Workers Threaten to Expand Strike to Long Beach Port 

Russia: Ministry of Labor proposes prolongation of the prior industry agreement for chemical, petrochemical, biotechnological and chemical-pharmaceutical sector image003

The United Steelworkers’ record of betrayal

A warning to US oil workers


Contributed by CMS Hasche Sigle

February 18 2015


Germany: Employers must expect an increase in the number of reviews of employees’ working hours by the occupational health and safety authorities.

Such reviews are triggered by employee complaints and are increasingly conducted in offices and the service sector. Consequently, reviewers no longer focus on production companies with fixed shifts, time clocks and break times. Instead, they focus on service companies that easily lose track of the law, relying on trust-based working hours or flexible working hour models. Home office and variable work packages and project work are also affected.

Employer’s duties

The employer is responsible for ensuring that daily maximum working hours (10 hours) are not exceeded and average working hours (eight hours) are complied with. Work on public holidays and Sundays is permitted only for special work (not including normal office work). Breaks during the working day and rest periods between two working days (11 hours) must also be taken. Deviations are permitted only within strict limits or with explicit official approval. The provisions do not apply to officers, but ‘officers’ as defined by statute are an exception in reality.

In addition, the employer must fulfil its documentation duties, including keeping records for two years of time worked exceeding eight working hours per working day. This was augmented at the beginning of 2015 by obligatory records under the new Minimum Wage Act. According to the act, the beginning, end and duration of daily working hours must be recorded for holders of mini-jobs and those in certain sectors, including:

·       construction;

·       restaurants and hotels;

·       passenger transport and logistics;

·       travelling performance;

·       forestry;

·       building cleaning;

·       exhibition-stand construction; and

·       meat.

This new duty to keep records is likely to cause additional reviews to be conducted by the supervisory authorities in the coming months. During such reviews, compliance with the Working Hours Act will also be checked.

Driven by the concern that employees could demand remuneration for their exact recorded working hours, many companies have turned a blind eye to the requirements of the Working Hours Act in the past. However, compliance with the act is mandatory.

In this context, employers may transfer many duties (including the duty to keep records) to employees with the relevant responsibility. The employer must then make random checks as to whether the employees are fulfilling these duties. Otherwise, there is the risk of official consequences.

Risks and fines

The supervisory authorities can:

·       demand information from the employer;

·       order measures that the employer must carry out; and

·       impose fines for violations.

An entry in the Central Trade Register is another imminent consequence. A look at the schedule of fines quickly reveals that violations are not worthwhile. A breach of the duty to keep records will result in a €1,600 fine per breach if committed intentionally. Although only up to half of the maximum fine is imposed in the event of negligence, considerable fines can nevertheless accrue depending on the number of employees. Any party which, for example, employs staff beyond the working hour limits or does not allow rest periods in due time is equally as liable as a repeat offender if these offences are committed intentionally and carry health risks. The consequences in such cases involve:

·       imprisonment of up to one year; or

·       a fine.

Further, employers which violate the duty to keep records required by the Minimum Wage Act will be fined up to €30,000.

Compliance officers should review whether employers are complying with Working Hours Act regulations and how statutory rules and assignment of employees can be reconciled.

For further information on this topic please contact Martin Lützeler at CMS Hasche Sigle by telephone (+49 221 77 16 159), fax (+49 221 77 16 332) or email ( The CMS Hasche Sigle website can be accessed at


Oil Workers Threaten to Expand Strike to Long Beach Port 

by hidden line after ‘By’Lynn Doan

5:51 PM CST  February 17, 2015

(Bloomberg) — United Steelworkers members who help run crude terminals at a California port are threatening to join a national oil workers’ strike at U.S. refineries.

Union members at the Port of Long Beach are negotiating their own contract with Tesoro Logistics LP, said Dave Campbell, secretary-treasurer of the local representing the laborers. The group will meet with members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union on Wednesday to discuss whether they would honor a walkout, he said.

“We’re all dealing with employers that seem to think they can push unions off the cliff, and we’re fighting back,” Campbell said by phone Tuesday. “We might have a big labor confrontation at the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor.”

The USW members at Tesoro’s Long Beach terminals would join the biggest oil workers’ strike since 1980, when a work stoppage lasted three months. The union has walked out of nine refineries in the U.S. that account for 13 percent of the country’s fuel capacity since Feb. 1. A combined oil and port workers’ strike at Long Beach would threaten to exacerbate slowdowns that have already stranded cargo ships off of West Coast ports and forced manufacturers to fly products to retailers.

“We’d encourage both labor and management to come to an agreement on that contract for the oil terminal workers,” Lee Peterson, a spokesman for the harbor in Long Beach, the busiest U.S. container port except for Los Angeles, said by phone on Tuesday. “It’s obviously very important for the region’s economy and several refiners in the area.”

Vessels Waiting

Thirty-two vessels were waiting to dock at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach at 7 a.m. local time on Tuesday, according to Peterson. “Things are pretty slowed down as it is at this point,” he said.

Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the longshore union, declined by phone to comment.

Tesoro Logistics, a San Antonio-based limited partnership formed by Tesoro Corp., unloads oil at marine terminals in Long Beach for delivery to Tesoro’s Carson and Wilmington refineries in Southern California. Its Pier B berths can discharge 32,000 barrels an hour through a 24-inch line to tanks, the harbor’s website shows. Another terminal, Berth 121, is capable of unloading tankers carrying 2 million barrels, according to regulatory filings.

Tesoro Plans

Tina Barbee, a spokeswoman at Tesoro’s headquarters in San Antonio, said the company has a contingency plan that would allow it to “safely operate our facilities with trained and qualified staff” should a strike occur. USW workers have walked out of three of Tesoro’s refineries, in Martinez and Carson, California, and Anacortes, Washington.

“We’ve not received any further notices of intent to strike,” Barbee said. “We have been and will continue to bargain in good faith.”

USW leaders and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, bargaining on behalf of oil companies, are scheduled to meet Wednesday to resume negotiations on a national agreement, Lynne Hancock, a union spokeswoman based in Nashville, Tennessee, said by phone Tuesday. “Should negotiations continue to go sour,” they will be the ones to decide whether members working for Tesoro Logistics will join the strike, she said.

The national union has called strikes at: Tesoro’s three plants; Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Catlettsburg complex in Kentucky and Galveston Bay site in Texas; Shell’s Deer Park complex; LyondellBasell Industries NV’s Houston facility; and BP Plc’s Whiting and Toledo refineries in the Midwest. More than 5,200 workers have walked out, USW statements show.

Tesoro Logistics workers in Southern California would add about 100 workers to the total on strike should they be called on, Campbell said.

USW told members in a text message late Tuesday to “be ready to do whatever it takes” to reach a fair agreement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lynn Doan in San Francisco at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at Richard Stubbe, Aaron Clark


Russia: Ministry of Labor proposes prolongation of the prior industry agreement for chemical, petrochemical, biotechnological and chemical-pharmaceutical sector 

Baker & McKenzie

Igor Makarov,  Alexander Gomonov, Elena Kukushkina and Maxim Kalinin

February 17 2015

Recent developments

On 24 January 2015 the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Russian Federation made a formal proposal to companies operating in the chemical, petrochemical, biotechnological and chemical-pharmaceutical sector to join the agreement on prolongation of the industrial tariff agreement on the Chemical, Petrochemical, Biotechnological and Chemical-pharmaceutical Industry of Russia for 2012–2014 (the “Agreement on Prolongation”) or to opt out by submitting a reasonable written refusal.

According to the Agreement on Prolongation concluded between the Russian Association of Employers “Russian Union of Chemical Plants and Organizations” and the Trade Union of Chemical Industry Workers of the Russian Federation, the industrial tariff agreement on the chemical, petrochemical, biotechnological and chemical-pharmaceutical industry of Russia for 2012–2014 (the “Agreement”) was prolonged until 31 December 2015.

The Agreement will be considered automatically extended to all relevant employers in the event they do not provide a reasonable written refusal to accede to the Agreement on Prolongation to the Ministry of Labor within 30 calendar days of the proposal’s official publication. Please note that 30 calendar days are counted from 4 February 2015 (the proposal’s official publication date), thus the companies are entitled to send a written refusal by 6 March 2015

What the Agreement says

The Agreement provides a number of significant additional guarantees to employees which surpass the current labor legislation. Among others, companies are obligated:

·       to pay at least an additional 40 percent of the wage rate (salary) for night work (the increase provided by current legislation is 20 percent);

·       to pay at least an additional 20 percent of the wage rate (salary) for evening work;

·       to index the minimum wage rate (salary) at least once per year proportionally to the increase in the cost of living, as set out by the Federal State Statistics Service. The Agreement specifies the procedure and coefficient of such adjustment when conducted once per year or more;

·       to provide employees with additional paid days off for the birth of a child, the employee’s wedding and the weddings of his children, as well as the death of his spouse or family members;

·       to pay guaranteed minimum compensation for injuries caused by accidents at work or occupational diseases in the amounts stipulated by the Agreement;

·       to make additional payments to employees (in connection with retirement, etc.);

·       to pay a surcharge on maternity and child care benefits;

·       to provide the employees with loans for constructing and purchasing housing, valuable assets or to implement together with credit institutions programs on mortgages provision to employees on preferential terms;

·       to provide an employee, who is notified in accordance with the law of his dismissal due to redundancies, with one paid day a week at the employee’s discretion to search for a job;

·       to save for employees dismissed due to redundancies, their turn on the waiting list for upgraded housing conditions, their use of healthcare institutions, and use of preschool institutions for their children;

·       to help acquire permits on sanatorium treatment, recovery and recreation of employees and members of their family (children up to 16 years old);

·       to carry out youth work, including providing welfare assistance to young employees, to set a list of guarantees and preferences granted to the them.

Trade unions are given additional rights under the Agreement:

·       the opinion of the elected trade union should be considered by the employer in setting the list of employees with open-ended working days;

·       companies are obligated to allocate not less than 0.3 percent of the payroll to the trade union to fund cultural and health works;

·       companies are obligated to ensure the participation of the trade union in performing work aimed at improving housing conditions;

·       the opinion of the elected trade union should be considered by the employer in taking decisions on various local acts and collective agreements as specified by the Agreement.

Actions to consider

Companies that do not wish to sign on to the Agreement should start preparing substantiated refusals as soon as possible. Records of consultations with the elected primary trade union must be attached to such refusals.

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