Agreement reached on instruments to strengthen social dialogue

After protest action in January 2009, national trade unions and authorities continued the debate on insufficient consultations with the social partners in adopting new legislation and taking decisions that affect the whole economy. Aiming to improve collaboration between the government and social partners, the parties agreed to new positions for trade union representatives at the government and parliament, and discussed other ways to strengthen social dialogue.

Dissatisfied with the social and economic policies pursued and hastily adopted legislation in the country, three national trade union organisations staged protest action on 16 January 2009 in front of the buildings of the parliament (Lietuvos Respublikos Seimas, LRS) and the government (Lietuvos Respublikos Vyriausybė, LRV) (LT0901019I). The trade unions involved included the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (Lietuvos profesinių sąjungų konfederacija, LPSK), the Lithuanian Labour Federation (Lietuvos darbo federacija, LDF) and the Lithuanian Trade Union ‘Solidarity’ (Lietuvos profesinė sąjunga ‘Solidarumas’, LPS Solidarity). Among the trade union demands put forward to the government were greater attention to the social partners’ opinion prior to adopting legislation that would be significant for employees and consideration of such legislation at the Tripartite Council of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Trišalė taryba, LRTT).

In response to the social partners’ opinion, meetings were held at the end of January 2009 between the presidents of the national trade unions and the Speaker of the LRS, Arūnas Valinskas, and the then Prime Minister, Andrius Kubilius.

Trade union representative appointed for parliament

On 21 January 2009, Mr Valinskas met the presidents of the national trade unions. Both sides conceded that the LRS to date had paid insufficient regard to the social partners’ opinion in adopting new legislation; therefore, they agreed on appointing a public adviser to the Speaker of the LRS to be delegated by the trade unions. Furthermore, the parties agreed ‘to approve such a practice where the LRTT’s opinions would be submitted together with opinions of the Committee of Social Affairs and Labour of the LRS (LRS Socialinių reikalų ir darbo komitetas) when dealing with any issues related to social affairs and labour.’ According to the parties, the new representative will participate in the consideration of issues relevant to trade unions at sittings of the parliament and its committees, promptly provide trade unions with relevant information and represent, within the limits of the representative’s competence, their interests at the LRS.

On 2 February, an extraordinary sitting of the board of LPSK approved the application of Algirdas Rauka for the position of public adviser at the LRS. Mr Rauka is currently the President of the Federation of Trade Unions of Forest Workers and Forest Industry Workers (Miško ir miško pramonės darbuotojų profesinių sąjungų federacija) and a member of the LPSK board. With this new appointment, Mr Rauka will represent LPSK as well as two other national trade union organisations at the parliament. An official letter has been sent to the parliament about the election of the trade union representative. Information about Mr Rauka’s activities at the parliament is not yet available.

Additional efforts to strengthen dialogue

On 28 January 2009, a meeting was held between the presidents of the national trade unions and the Prime Minister at the time, Mr Kubilius. They discussed the future of the LRTT as well as opportunities for signing a national agreement. Moreover, they agreed to establish a position for a trade union representative at the LRV. These instruments are expected to strengthen social dialogue among representatives of the LRV, employer organisations and trade unions.

In addition, representatives of the LRV and trade unions discussed opportunities for expanding the LRTT by inviting representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), businesses and the sciences to be involved in the commissions and committees of the LRTT. It was further decided to sign agreements concerning the principal resolutions of the tripartite council. In view of the possible signing of the national agreement, issues should be put forward by the summer of 2009 to be included as a framework for this agreement.

The trade union representatives and Prime Minister Kubilius agreed to form a working group for the organisation of social dialogue with representatives of the LRTT, the LRV and NGOs. In the near future, the group is expected to come up with proposals on institutions likely to contribute to the development and strengthening of social dialogue.

Inga Blažienė, Institute of Labour and Social Research

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