Lithuania: Developments in working life – Q1 2016
The strike in the education sector, the approval of the Action Plan for social dialogue and the findings on wages and work-life balance of three surveys are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Lithuania in the first quarter of 2016.
The main event in the area of industrial relations in Lithuania in the first quarter of 2016 was the strike in the education sector, which lasted for almost two weeks. Despite numerous meetings between trade unions and representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science (SMM), no agreement was reached on the demands made by trade unions at the end of 2015, and unions decided to call a strike. Although this was not approved by the Tripartite Council of the Republic of Lithuania (LRTT), the teachers began an indefinite national strike of teachers on 22 February. Approximately 240 educational establishments were affected (about 10% of the total number) The strike ended on 4 March when the unions signed an agreement with Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius and Minister for Education and Science Audronė Pitrėnienė. It was also agreed to provide an extra €8 million to increase teachers’ pay from 1 September 2016, and to continue negotiations on the education collective agreement.
Strengthening of social dialogue
Another important development was the approval of the Action Plan for the Strengthening of Social Dialogue in Lithuania 2016–2020. The plan provides for:
- the implementation of joint activities between trade unions, employers and NGOs;
- development of social partners’ skills and competences;
- creating conditions for the analysis of social dialogue in Lithuania.
Activities set out by the plan are to be co-financed by the state and the European Social Fund (ESF), The main organisers are the State Labour Inspectorate (VDI), social partner organisations and NGOs. It should be noted that the measures set out in the plan are very different from earlier measures implemented to facilitate the development of social dialogue in Lithuania, such as the establishment of tripartite and bipartite commissions, health and safety committees, and the signing of collective agreements at company, sectoral and territorial level.
Study findings on wages and work-life balance
Results of several surveys were also announced. Two of them – the first initiated by the Central Bank of the Republic of Lithuania (LB), and the second, the Lithuanian economic review (in Lithuanian, 1.91 MB PDF), carried out by the Confederation of Lithuanian Industrialists (LPK) – came to the conclusion that Lithuanian employers are likely to increase wages/salaries soon. According to the LB, businesses are positive about the future: more companies are making profits and nearly one in two companies have recently increased wages/salaries and plan to raise them in the future. According to the LPK review, employers who fail to find workers with appropriate qualifications are forced to increase wages to recruit workers they need, or to attract them from neighbouring countries or other companies. This is a dominant trend in all enterprises.
The results of another survey were also published, on the experiences of women in search of work–life balance after they return to work from parental leave. The survey by the Institute of Hygiene (HI) showed that return to work from parental leave was experienced as an intensive process defined by several phases. Researchers concluded that the main condition for women’s work-life balance is support in their personal life (from a partner and relatives) and at the workplace (from superiors and colleagues). Other factors are flexible working conditions and state support. HI professionals made several recommendations about how Lithuanian employers could strengthen their employees’ well-being by creating a favourable environment for their work–life balance (in Lithuanian, 584 KB PDF). The recommendations also aimed to raise awareness of the importance of a good work–life balance for employees.