Non-affiliated trade union in Kaunas strikes over low pay

In mid October 2007, due to dissatisfaction with low wages, the Trade Union of Employees of Kaunas County Governor’s Administration (KAVADPS) declared a token strike in Kaunas city. As the dispute remained unsettled after the strike action, the KAVADPS appealed to the government to help resolve the situation in relation to pay. The government was expected to review the situation by mid November.

At present, three national trade union organisations are operating in Lithuania in addition to a number of non-affiliated trade unions. In recent times, the latter organisations have been becoming increasingly active, with their activities receiving increased attention.

A recent example of such activity is that of one of the non-affiliated trade unions – the Joint Trade Union (Jungtinė profesinė sąjunga, JPS) – affiliated to the Trade Union of Employees of Kaunas County Governor’s Administration (Kauno apskrities viršininko administracijos darbuotojų profesinė sąjunga, KAVADPS). JPS organised a token strike in Kaunas city in central Lithuania on 17 October 2007 against the low wages of the administration’s workers.

Trade union demands

In August 2007, KAVADPS submitted the following demands to the Kaunas County Governor, Romualdas Morkevičius:

  • to raise the wages of employees of the Kaunas County Governor’s Administration (Kauno apskrities viršininko administracija, KAVA), who are working on employment contracts, by 80% on average;
  • to cover transport costs for all employees travelling on business purposes;
  • to cover the cost of mobile telephone calls made in relation to business matters;
  • to provide paid training leave for employees.

Dispute emerges based on demands

Although a week later, KAVADPS received an answer from the governor’s office stating that the demands brought forward were already under way or would be reviewed as soon as some of these were defined more precisely. KAVADPS regarded the situation as a collective dispute and offered to establish a conciliation committee to settle the dispute. However, as the dispute was not settled at the conciliation committee, in September 2007 the trade union began preparing for strike action: it called formal meetings of workers from the institutions associated with KAVA. According to JPS, the workers unanimously supported the idea to go on strike.

Strike action declared

On 9 October 2007, KAVADPS officially declared a token strike and informed Mr Morkevičius to this effect. It was planned that Land Management Units within KAVA’s Kaunas City Municipality and all other regions would not work during the strike which was due to commence on 17 October 2007 at 15.00.

The strike committee requested strikers to gather at a rally under the title ‘Against poverty and for a wage rise’ held in front of the Kaunas City Municipality offices on 17 October at 15.30. According to the organisers of the strike, the meeting was attended by about 300–500 members of JPS and the Lithuanian Trade Union ‘Sandrauga’ (Lietuvos profesinė sąjunga ‘Sandrauga’), which also included the KAVA workers on strike.

The organisers of the strike activities stated:

In order to formally reflect Lithuania’s EU membership, employees must be paid acceptable remuneration, as is the case in other countries of the European Union. This is just the beginning of the long road to achieving better employment conditions for workers. This strike and meeting represent the beginning of real solidarity and movements of trade unions.

Appeal to government to resolve wage situation

On 19 October, JPS appealed to the government for assistance in resolving the conflict. The trade union requested the provision of additional funds in the draft budget for Kaunas County and to negotiate a wage increase with employees.

These requirements were expected to be reviewed by the government by mid November 2007.

Inga Blažienė, Institute of Labour and Social Research

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