Membership of National tripartite council boosted
The Tripartite Council of the Republic of Lithuania, the main national-level social dialogue institution in the country, was established in 1995. By decision of the social partners, the number of its members has increased from 15 to 21 persons in 2009 by including new representatives of employer and employee organisations and of ministries. This expansion is expected to strengthen the council and add more competencies in making decisions on social and economic issues.
The Tripartite Council of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Trišalė taryba, LRTT) is currently the main social dialogue institution in the country. Representatives of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Vyriausybė, LRV) and national-level employer and trade union organisations meet for debates at the LRTT at least once a month.
More tripartite representatives
Since the establishment of the LRTT in 1995, government, employer and employee representatives have been included in its composition on parity grounds. More specifically, the council has comprised five representatives of the government, five representatives of national-level employer organisations and five representatives of national-level trade unions – amounting to 15 members in total.
At the end of 2008, the social partners agreed to expand the LRTT by including six new members. This proposal was formalised in the decision of the LRTT of 17 March 2009, which approved a new version of the LRTT rules stipulating that ‘the maximum number of members of the Council may not exceed 21 (that is, not more than seven representatives from each party)’.
Additional members already delegated to the LRTT are: representatives of the Ministry of the Interior (Vidaus reikalų ministerija, VRM) and the Ministry of Justice (Teisingumo ministerija, TM) on behalf of the government; and representatives of the Association of Lithuanian Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Crafts (Lietuvos prekybos, pramonės ir amatų rūmų asociacija, LPPARA) and the Chamber of Agriculture (Žemės ūkio rūmai, ŽŪR) on behalf of employers.
Trade unions have not yet decided which new members to include in the LRTT. One member is expected to be a representative not associated to the main national-level trade union organisations and the other union is likely to represent a regional trade union organisation.
The enlarged LRTT is expected to be more competent in tackling relevant social and economic issues and to represent the interests of a broader spectrum of employers and employees.
Activities of tripartite council
According to the rules of the tripartite council,
the LRTT is based on the principle of equal tripartite partnership …. The Council focuses on all relevant economic and social development issues as well as macroeconomic and social stability of the country …. It promotes the development of the national and European consciousness. By its composition, the LRTT represents economic and social forces of Lithuanian society. All interest groups have realistic opportunities to express their opinion to the Council, highlight problems and submit proposals.
The main functions of the LRTT are to:
- analyse – at the proposal of the parties – social, economic and labour problems and submit recommendations on the resolution of such issues;
- discuss, on a selected basis, existing laws and drafts of legislation in the social, economic and labour sphere, and draw conclusions and make proposals to the parliament and the government;
- analyse the possibilities of using bipartite and tripartite partnership in resolving various social, economic and labour issues, and make recommendations to the parties on the development of social partnership;
- consider and approve an annual tripartite agreement concerning social, economic and labour issues, signed by the authorised representatives of the parties;
- coordinate activities of other bipartite and tripartite councils and commissions – such as the Commission on Employees’ Safety and Health and the Employment Council – in the social, economic and labour sphere, and address the problems raised by these bodies at the highest level.
Short history of tripartite council
Before the re-establishment of independence in Lithuania in 1991, there was no social dialogue in the country. In the centrally planned economy, there were no employer organisations and no negotiations between governments and trade unions.
Trade unions propose tripartite cooperation
In 1993, the Lithuanian trade unions proposed the idea of a tripartite cooperation, leading to the adoption on 4 February of that year of a resolution that:
All governments have been working … without looking into and listening to proposals and requirements of employees and their representatives, and also failing to fulfil the obligations of a member of the International Labour Organization, that is, to recognise the principle of tripartite partnership in the labour market …
The resolution insisted on the urgent commencement of tripartite cooperation among the government, trade unions and employer organisations in tackling important social and economic problems of the country. A cooperation agreement was signed between the government and trade unions on 26 February 1993 and, in November, the first meeting was held between representatives of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists (Lietuvos pramoninkų konfederacija, LPK) and the Lithuanian Trade Union Centre (Lietuvos profesinių sąjungų centras). The meeting ended with the adoption of a declaration on further cooperation between employers and trade unions.
On 23 June 1994, following ratification of the 1976 International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 144 concerning tripartite consultations to promote the implementation of international labour standards, the Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour (Socialinės apsaugos ir darbo ministerija, SADM) was empowered to perform specific steps for the establishment of the LRTT – that is, to arrange the drawing up of the LRTT’s rules and convene the first sittings of the council. The government, trade unions and employer organisations signed an agreement on tripartite partnership on 5 May 1995. This agreement is considered as the formal start of the LRTT’s activities.
Inga Blažienė, Institute of Labour and Social Research