Lithuania: Latest developments in working life Q2 2019
The unification of the two biggest education trade unions, a 1 May rally about rights and social justice, and talks among trade unions and employer organisations on the disclosure of salaries in job adverts are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Lithuania in the second quarter of 2019.
Two largest education trade unions merge
In the second quarter of 2019, two of the largest trade unions representing teachers and other educational workers in Lithuania announced their unification. The Lithuanian Education Trade Union (LŠPS) and the Lithuanian Teachers, Education and Science Trade Union (LMŠMPS) merged to form the Lithuanian Education and Science Trade Union (LŠMPS), and the new union’s constituent congress took place on 9 May.
The LŠMPS has 10,000 members and is the biggest sectoral trade union in Lithuania affiliated to the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LPSK). The constituent congress approved the statute of the trade union and elected the president (Egidijus Milešinas) and vice-presidents (Audrius Jurgelevičius and Ramūnas Znutas). Congress delegates also assessed the present state of social dialogue in the education system and adopted the declaration of the congress.
The constituent congress of the LŠMPS was attended by Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, Minister of Education, Sports and Science Algirdas Monkevičius, members of parliament, the president of the LPSK, social partners, and colleagues from Estonian and Latvian education trade unions. A cooperation agreement between the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian education trade unions was also signed at the congress.
Trade unions, NGOs and political groups demand their rights
On 1 May, representatives of Lithuanian trade unions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and political organisations gathered for a march, rally and concert under the slogan ‘We’re Coming For Our Rights’.  According to the trade unions,
in Lithuania, we still have to fight for social justice. Poverty is widespread. So the marches and rallies are intended to remind the government of the priorities to focus on.
The trade unions and NGOs presented several demands to politicians. These included:
- decent pay for all people
- free healthcare, education and other public services
- for work to be equally evaluated and shared between men and women
- equal rights for people coming to work in Lithuania
- equal opportunities for people with disabilities
- adequate social protection for the self-employed
- reduced social exclusion, particularly child poverty
Mixed views over disclosure of salary in job adverts
A dispute between employer organisations and trade unions over making it mandatory to include salary rates in job adverts continued in the second quarter of 2019. In June, four members of the parliament submitted a proposal to add a paragraph to the Labour Code that obliges employers to indicate salary rates or salary ranges in job adverts. The final vote on the amendment will take place in July. If approved by the parliament, the amendment will come into force in autumn 2019.
The Lithuanian trade unions believe that this obligation will increase the negotiating power of potential employees as it will give them a solid starting point. The requirement is also expected to save people time and, most importantly, help to reduce the shadow economy by acting as a preventative measure.
Employer organisations disagree with the proposal. In their view, regulation is excessive, will not add any value and will make the labour market more inflexible. In addition, employers sometimes find it difficult to define what salary a person will be paid in advance, as this often depends on the individual, their abilities and their work performance. Employer organisations also believe that salary is not the only incentive for employees: the overall staff policy in the company, training opportunities, additional insurance, etc. must be taken into account as well.
However, both trade unions and employer organisations agree that this regulation will not have a significant impact on the negotiation process and will leave a lot of freedom for employers (i.e. they will be able to include salary ranges in job adverts). This opinion is supported by representatives of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour who say it will just be an information tool and that no control mechanism is foreseen.