ESF-funded projects to promote social dialogue

On 21 February the Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour, the European Social Fund Agency and leaders of employer and employee organisations signed contracts governing the implementation of ESF-funded projects designed to promote social dialogue. The two-year projects are designed to develop the capacities of employers and trade unions in the area of social dialogue, improve industrial relations and promote the signing of collective agreements in the country.

Background

On 21 February, 20 contracts covering the funding and administration of projects designed to promote social dialogue were signed by Lithuania’s Ministry of Social Security and Labour (SADM), the European Social Fund Agency (ESFA) and the leaders of employer and employee organisations.

Beginning in March and lasting two years, the projects will be financed from the European Social Fund. They come under the Human Resource Development Operational Programme 2007–2013 measure ‘Strengthening of social dialogue’.

They are designed to promote:

  • the signing of collective agreements;
  • the establishment of health and safety committees within businesses;
  • the establishment of bipartite and tripartite councils and commissions in municipalities.

Supporting social dialogue

  • projects are designed to support the training of employees in their rights and duties, and of employer and employee organisations in the possibilities of implementing flexible and modern forms of employment.
  • goals are:
  • to involve 532 organisations in the projects, including 169 trade unions;
  • to provide training opportunities for more than 18,000 people;
  • to achieve 253 collective agreements at company level;
  • to establish 128 safety and health committees;
  • to set up 49 bipartite or tripartite councils or commissions;
  • to sign 32 territorial and 16 sectoral collective agreements.

The Minister of Social Security and Labour Donatas Jankauskas has described the programme as a big challenge for project developers because only one sectoral collective agreement has been signed in Lithuania to date, an agreement between the Lithuanian Journalist Union (LŽS) and the Association of National Regional and Urban Newspaper Publishers (NRMLLA) signed on 19 January 2007 (LT0702029I).

It is expected to lead to the signing of a number of sectoral collective agreements between business employer associations and sectoral trade unions in sectors such as paper manufacturing, petroleum products manufacturing, the chemical industry, furniture manifacturing and other industrial sectors.

Public sector agreements are to be drafted and signed in the education, social services, police and other sectors.

Developing joint measures

The social partners – trade unions and employers – will be encouraged to agree on and implement joint measures to ensure employees and enterprises adapt to changes in the labour market.

The measure ‘Strengthening of social dialogue’ aims to develop the capacities of employers, employer organisations and trade unions in the areas of social dialogue, improviecollective labour relations, promote the signing of collective agreements, raise awareness of the importance of social dialogue among union members and the public, and keep them adequately informed.

ESF funding allocations for the implementation of the two-year projects amounts to LTL 15 million (€4.3 million).

Inga Blaziene, Institute of Labour and Social Research

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