11 Agosto 2004
In Latvia, the unemployment rate is calculated in two ways - as the number of unemployed people in relation to the economically active population, or the number of job-seekers in relation to the economically active population. Under the law on support for unemployed people and jobseekers (in force since 1 July 2002), an unemployed person is defined an 'able-bodied' non-working citizen - or non-citizen or foreign citizen (or stateless person) who has received a license for permanent residency - who is: of working age; not engaged in business activities; looking for work; and registered with the State Employment Agency (Nodarbinātības Valsts aģentūra, NVA), signing on at least once a month. A person who has received a permit for temporary residency and is the spouse of a citizen or non-citizen of the Republic of Latvia can also be granted the status of unemployed. Jobseekers (both registered and non-registered with the NVA) are defined as people who do not work and are not temporarily absent from work, are actually seeking a job and are immediately available for work if they find it.
04 Agosto 2004
Latvian public policy in the employment sphere is mainly aimed at promoting employment, creating new jobs and increasing people's employability. However, various aspects of industrial relations are also an important part of employment policy, and this article examines these issues.
14 Luglio 2004
In March 2004, the EIRO national centres in 24 European countries were asked, in response to a questionnaire, to give a brief overview of their country's system for dealing with individual labour/employment disputes through the courts, along with data on: the volume of cases; the costs; the timeframe; alternatives to going to court; and any current debate on these issues. The Latvian responses are set out below (along with the questions asked).
06 Luglio 2004
In 2004, the State Employment Agency (Nodarbinātības Valsts aģentūra, NVA) is implementing an employment project for school students for the first time. This is a state-supported scheme whereby school students aged 15-18 may work for one month during their summer holiday period from 14 June to 31 August. The government has allocated EUR 226,000 to implement the project. A proportion of these funds will go towards paying half of the minimum monthly wage (EUR 60), for each young person working in an enterprise. Employers will also have to pay at least half of the minimum wage (ie not less than EUR 60). The state funds will also pay for the time of 'work leaders' for the young people (from EUR 30 to EUR 120 per month, depending on the number of students to be supervised).
29 Giugno 2004
Education workers' pay has long been a major theme in Latvian public and political debate, and has even contributed to bringing down governments (see below). A key issue has been restructuring the wages system for teachers working in 'general' educational institutions - there are 34,200 teaching staff employed at 'general schools' 7,900 in pre-school establishments.
14 Giugno 2004
Elections for state President were held in 2003, following the expiry of the previous four-year term in June. President Vaira Vike Freiberga was elected for a second term. The government during 2003 was a coalition (formed in November 2002) of the centrist New Era (Jaunais laiks, JL), the centre-right Latvia First Party (Latvijas Pirmā Partija, LPP), the Green and Farmers Union (Zalo un Zemnieku savienība, ZZS) and the conservative Alliance Fatherland and Freedom-LNNK (Apvienība Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK, TB/LNNK).
11 Giugno 2004
Following discussions lasting several years, in 2004 the Ministry of Finance has proposed raising the 'minimum tax-free threshold'- the threshold of earnings below which no personal income tax is levied - to half the level of the minimum wage. The proposal has been discussed by the 'taxation policy evaluation working group', and will be forwarded for consideration to the cabinet. The taxation policy evaluation working group consists of representatives of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of the Economy, the State Revenue Service (Valsts Ieņēmumu dienests, VID), employers, businesses and taxation consultants, and is headed by the Minister of Finance.
08 Giugno 2004
Employment relations in Latvia are essentially based on the employment contract. A set of legal acts provide for mutual employment relations between an employer and an employee established by such a contract. These include the Latvian Constitution (Satversme), the Labour Law (Darba likums) - the main law regulating individual and collective employment and industrial relations - international laws applicable to Latvia, other national legal acts, collective agreements and procedural work rules.
11 Maggio 2004
The ambulance service is affected by a lack of funding in the same way as the Latvian healthcare system as a whole. The ambulance service is provided by municipal transport services, but drivers’ wages are paid from the healthcare budget and - given the general lack of money for health - are very low. The contrast between the high level of risk in the work of ambulance drivers and their low wages has prompted them to make tough demands for improved working conditions to the government, and to call on trade unions to push forward these demands. In mid-April 2004, a meeting was held between about 50 drivers and the Latvian Health and Social Care Workers Trade Union (Latvijas Veselibas aprupes un socialo darbinieku arodbiedriba, LVSADA). At the meeting, the drivers announced that they were prepared to strike if their demands for improved working conditions are not met in the near future. The drivers are calling for: 'operational service' status to be granted not just to the vehicles but also to the personnel; wage increases; accident insurance for all workers; vaccination against hepatitis and other infectious diseases; and new and better vehicles. LVSADA considers the drivers' demands to be justified.
10 Maggio 2004
Under transitional arrangements agreed by the EU and new Member States in central and eastern Europe which joined the EU in 1 May 2004, the 'old' Member States may limit movements of workers from the new Member States for a period of up to seven years after enlargement. Virtually all the old Member States have introduced such restrictive measures, to differing degrees and for various periods