Social partners yet to agree on amendments to EU working time Directive
Despite repeated deliberations over the proposed amendments to the EU working time Directive, a common agreement on a number of issues at question has not yet been reached by the Lithuanian social partners in September 2005.
The social partners started deliberation of the Council recommendations concerning the amendment of some provisions of Directive 2003/88/EC on certain aspects of the organisation of working time (EU0506204F) at the Tripartite Council of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Trišalė Taryba, LRTT) as early as September 2004. In addition, the issues in question were subject to being agreeing upon with the social partners in writing. The sitting of the LRTT held on June 2005 resolved to delegate the standing Commission for Employment Relations at the LRTT with continuation of discussions concerning the amendments of the mentioned directive and to work out conclusions for the LRTT.
The Commission for Employment Relations discussed in details all the issues with the exception of the opt-out issue, and agreed to hold a special sitting for consideration of the latter issue. It should be noted however that the social partners succeeded in reaching a common position only on some, more or less 'neutral', questions. They agreed on the following:
- article 14 of the preamble providing for a striving that every employee would be entitled to limited maximum working hours per day and per week;
- equivalent periods of compensatory rest within a reasonable period;
- compatibility between working and family life.
On the other hand, different opinions of the social partners have been faced on the following issues:
- inactive part of on-call time (inclusion/non-inclusion thereof in the working time);
- extension of the reference period .
Generally speaking, in deliberation of the amendments to the currently valid Directive, the Lithuanian trade unions are upholding quite a 'conservative' position. According to them, adoption of the recommended amendments to the Directive would cause preconditions for liberalisation of the regulations currently valid in Lithuania and consequently would worsen the situation of individuals employed in Lithuania. This stance is also supported by representatives of the committee for social affairs and labour of the Lithuanian Seimas (LRS Socialinių reikalų ir darbo komitetas) (who also share in deliberation of the Directive amendments in question and attend sittings of the LRTT).
Representatives of Lithuanian employers, in their turn, emphasise regularly increasing competition and growing needs for flexibility in the labour market. In order to maintain their positions in the market they wouldn’t like to appear in worse competitive conditions compared to employers in other countries, and therefore, the employers more often turn to assent to novelties liberalising the labour market.
In general, the mentioned issues, particularly those related to employment relations, are extremely relevant in Lithuania and most probably will require further deliberation. According to the Ministry of Social Security and Labour (Socialinės apsaugos ir darbo ministerija, SADM), which is taking care of the aforesaid issues, discussions shall be further proceeded trying to involve broader social groups and analysing impact of the likely Directive amendments on the Lithuanian labour market, participants of employment relations and competitive abilities of Lithuania among other Member States, etc. Concurrently, it is of the utmost importance that the social partners would go further into, and discuss, likely impact of the amendments on themselves and would have time to furnish their justified conclusive findings, particularly with regard to issues on which compromising has failed.
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