Trade unions threaten to start mass protest actions
On 24 October 2005, the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation furnished a petition to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania concerning the principles and mechanisms for increase of social benefits and wages. In case the Government neglects the submitted demands and proposal to negotiate, the Confederation threatens starting preparation for mass protest actions.
On 24 October 2005, the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (Lietuvos profesinių sąjungų konfederacija, LPSK) filed a petition to Mr. A.Brazauskas, the Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Vyriausybė, LRV), where they state that 'the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation, which unites 26 sectoral trade union organisations and over 100 thousand members, negatively approaches the economic and social policy of governmental authorities. The minimum and real wage rates in Lithuania are among the lowest ones in the European Union. This is one of the reasons for mass emigration of labour force. Given the considerable growth of gross domestic product, wages of most employees are frozen. Average wages in the Republic of Lithuania, as published by the Lithuanian Statistics, keep growing only on the account of growing wages of executive officers of companies. The growth of national budget revenues is used not for social security, but for development of governmental authorities. The tax system renders to poverty Lithuanian individuals with low income and creates no conditions for business development.'
In its petition to the Prime Minister, the LPSK insists on reviewing the national economic and social policy in such a way as to make it meet primarily the economic and social interests of the poorest individuals in the country. Acting in compliance with Art. 48 of the Labour Code - 'Collective Bargaining', the LPSK, as a party willing to negotiate has submitted the following demands to be negotiated with the other party to negotiations, i.e., the LRV:
- To raise a tax-exempt amount of income (TEAI), state-supported income and base pension up to the realistic margin of poverty - LTL 326 (EUR 94.5), and to increase the minimum standard of living (MSL) up to the limit of the calculated MSL - LTL 217.4 (EUR 63). The increased MSL shall be used for establishing the amount of social benefits. The criteria and procedure of indexation of the above mentioned minimum amounts shall be internalised in the law;
- To ensure indexation of wages and social benefits in accordance with the growth of consumer prices or the growth of gross domestic product, whichever indicator is growing more rapidly;
- To internalise in the law the criteria and procedure to serve as a basis for wage indexation;
- To introduce progressive rates of income tax of individuals.
Citing the petition of the LPSK, 'the LPSK hopes for a useful social dialogue, which would have effects on the welfare of the country and its population. Should the negotiations not be commenced or in case of failure to agree on satisfaction of the demands, the trade unions retain a right to initiate legal protest actions'. The LPSK’s initiative is also supported by other two national trade union organisations - the Lithuanian Labour Federation (Lietuvos darbo federacija, LDF) and the Lithuanian Trade Union 'Solidarumas' (Lietuvos profesine sajunga Solidarumas, Solidarumas)
In response to the demands of the trade unions and their threat to start protest actions in case the negotiations are not started within two weeks, Prime Minister A.Brazauskas delegated the Ministry of Finance (Lietuvos Respublikos Finansų ministerija) and the Ministry of Social Security and Labour (Lietuvos Respublikos Socialinės apsaugos ir darbo ministerija) to make estimates of the 'costs' of satisfaction of the trade unions’ demands. According to the Prime Minister, after objective assessment of the submitted demands, the Government will have to negotiate with trade unions.
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