Education trade unions join to form new federation
Trade unions representing education workers amalgamated in February 2009 to form the Lithuanian Federation of Education and Science Workers’ Trade Unions. However, the two unions involved have retained their autonomy. The new federation intends to ensure better protection for its members and stronger representation of the common interests of teachers and lecturers. It aims to develop more constructive dialogue with employers and the government.
New union covers education spectrum
The education sector is one of the best organised sectors of economic activity in Lithuania. It not only unites a considerable number of trade union members, but also has several trade union organisations: sectoral trade unions of education workers are functioning in all of the national peak trade union organisations. In addition, numerous independent education workers’ trade union organisations exist.
On 20 February 2009, the two currently most active trade unions in Lithuania established a new organisation, the Lithuanian Federation of Education and Science Workers’ Trade Unions (Lietuvos švietimo ir mokslo profesinių sąjungų federacija, LŠMPSF). The two unions involved are the ‘Aukštaitija’ Education Workers’ Trade Union Association (Aukštaitijos švietimo darbuotojų profesinių sąjungų susivienijimas, AŠDPS), which unites teachers, and the Lithuanian High School Trade Union Association (Lietuvos aukštųjų mokyklų profesinių sąjungų susivienijimas, LAMPSS), which represents university and college lecturers.
On 24 March, LŠMPSF was registered with the Register of Legal Persons. The new federation is the only education trade unions’ organisation in Lithuania uniting workers in all fields of education from pre-school to university or college education.
Objectives of new organisation
According to representatives of the amalgamated organisations, the federation has been established with a view to ensuring more efficient protection of its members and sounder representation of the interests of teachers and lecturers. Both trade unions – AŠDPS and LAMPSS – will retain their autonomy and independently deal with their sectoral problems; however, they will combine their efforts to jointly address general education-related issues.
The main objectives of LŠMPSF include the unification of Lithuanian education and science workers, the coordination of the activities of federation members, as well as the representation and protection of the professional, employment, economic and social interests of the members. LŠMPSF members aim to activate social partnership with employers and their organisations, and to develop a more constructive dialogue with municipal institutions.
AŠDPS and LAMPSS have already cooperated on certain issues, even before the establishment of the new federation. Nevertheless, since the amalgamation, the joint activities of the two organisations have become more vigorous. For example, they stand together against the ‘socially-defective higher education reform’ and the Lithuanian government’s intentions to reduce wages for teachers, lecturers and other budgetary workers (LT0812019I, LT0806019I, LT0804019I).
Cooperation with other unions
It was agreed that LŠMPSF would seek membership of the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (Lietuvos profesinių sąjungų konfederacija, LPSK); AŠDPS is already a member of LPSK. Furthermore, LŠMPSF decided to apply for admission to the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI) – a worldwide organisation representing teachers and education workers. LŠMPSF endeavours to keep close and friendly relations with other trade unions functioning in the education sector: representatives of the federation take part in joint events and share their experience. Democratic education trade unions are also invited to become fully fledged members of the federation.
On 22 April 2009, LŠMPSF duly became a member of LPSK and the federation was also informed by the secretariats of ETUCE and EI that its application would be considered at the next sitting of the organisations’ decision-making bodies.
Inga Blažienė, Institute of Labour and Social Research