What are the missions of the National Conciliation Office?

In principle, ONC has three missions:

  • resolve collective disputes on working conditions;
  • to settle collective labour disputes that not resulting from a collective agreement or a collective accord;
  • to advise on applications for a declaration of the general obligation of collective labour agreements and agreements on national or interprofessional social dialogue.

Who refers a matter to the ONC?

Collective disputes shall be referred to the ONC by the most diligent party prior to any strike or lockout action.

What is class action litigation?

A distinction is made between class actions concerning collective agreements and class actions concerning working conditions.

A collective bargaining dispute arises when:

  • the employer refuses to enter into collective bargaining; or
  • the parties disagree on one or more clauses of the collective agreement to be concluded.

A class actions concerning working conditions arises when the dispute concerns the collective interests of all or the majority of the employees and arises from problems resulting from the organisation, reorganisation or restructuring of a company that impact the working conditions of all or the majority of the employees in the company.

How is the ONC composed?

The ONC is composed of a president, a joint committee, and an administrative service.

Who chairs the ONC?

The ONC is chaired by the Minister of Labour and Employment.

The Minister may appoint a deputy president for a period of five years, to be chosen from a list of three candidates. This list is drawn up by the Government in Council on the ­proposal of the Minister.

The Minister may replace the Deputy Chairperson for a specified period or dispute by another candidate from the above-mentioned list.

How is the Joint Conciliation Committee composed?

The Joint Conciliation Committee comprises eight regular non-presiding judges, appointed for five years, including four employers’ representatives and four employees’ representatives.

It also includes 16 alternate non-presiding judges, eight of whom are employers’ representatives and eight employees’ representatives.

The Joint Conciliation Committee is assisted by representatives directly concerned with the case being dealt with and representing respectively the employers and the employees of the sectors or companies/establishments concerned by the dispute.

How are the regular and alternate judges of the Joint Conciliation Committee appointed?

The regular and alternate judges of the joint conciliation committee are appointed by the Minister on the basis of proposals from the most representative employers’ federations belonging to a national organization grouping together most of the employers’ federations, and from the trade unions that have overall representativeness nationally.

Is referral to the ONC mandatory for class actions?

Yes, any class action concerning working conditions, or the conclusion of a collective agreement must be submitted to the ONC for conciliation.

How is a class action resolved in relation to a collective agreement?

The conciliation procedure will be concluded either by the signing of a collective agreement or by a finding of non-conciliation.

In order to resolve the dispute, the two groups of judges may jointly formulate a conciliation proposal.

If this proposal is rejected by at least one of the parties, the Chairman may submit a conciliation proposal on his own initiative. The rejection of his proposal by at least one of the parties shall constitute a finding of non-conciliation.

Non-reconciliation can still be established by a unanimous vote of both groups of judges in the Joint Conciliation Committee.

If a settlement has not been reached at the end of a period of 16 weeks from the first meeting of the Joint Conciliation Committee, the parties to the dispute or one of them may declare that no settlement has been reached.

In the event of agreement by the parties, the settlement of the dispute shall result from the signing of the agreement by the parties to the dispute who are authorised to sign, then ratified where appropriate by their competent bodies.

If not all the trade unions that were part of the staff delegation agree, the agreement may be signed by the trade unions that have a majority mandate.

How is a class action related to collective working conditions resolved?

The most diligent party shall refer the matter to the ONC in writing. It shall send a copy of this referral to the Labour Inspectorate and to the representatives of the parties involved in the collective dispute.

This referral must contain:

  • the elements that are the subject of the class action;
  • the justification that it is a class action within the meaning of the 2004 Act and;
  • the appointment of the petitioner’s representatives.

Within three days of receiving a copy of the referral, the other party shall appoint its ­own representatives to the ONC and inform the Chair.

The chairman shall convene the judges and the parties within nine days of the referral. The first meeting shall take place within two weeks of the date of referral.

If no settlement has been reached within four weeks of the first meeting of the Joint Committee, the parties to the dispute or either of them may declare that no settlement has been reached.

What is the procedure for requesting a declaration of general obligation?

Any collective agreement may be declared to be of general application to all employers and workers in the profession, activity, branch or economic sector concerned.

The declaration of general obligation must determine its precise scope.

The application for a declaration of general obligation is addressed to the Minister of Labour:

  • by the professional organisation of employers in the sector concerned;
  • by a trade union with general national representativeness;
  • by a trade union that is representative of a particularly important sector of the Luxembourg economy, if this sector is concerned by the request for a declaration of general obligation.

The declaration of general obligation results from a Grand-Ducal regulation, based on a joint proposal by the two groups of judges of the Joint Conciliation Committee, with the professional chambers asked to express an opinion.