Lithuania: Unions protest at new draft social model law

The draft legislation on a new social model has prompted widespread protest from trade unions who fear that the new law will undermine social guarantees and have negative effects on working conditions.

At the beginning of 2014, work began on the development of a new social model in Lithuania. The new social model will include the drafting of regulatory legislation in the area of labour law, employment and social insurance. The declared purpose of the new labour code drafted within the framework of the project is to implement more flexibility in labour relations in balance with employees’ security. However the new draft, prepared by experts, has proved unsatisfactory for the trade unions.

In the second quarter of 2015, social partners discussed further the draft legislation prepared in the framework of the social model, with a specific emphasis on the draft labour code.  It was expected that already in May the new draft labour code, after being negotiated between social partners, would be presented for reading by the LRS together with other draft regulations related to the social model. Unfortunately, the social partners failed to negotiate all disputable aspects of the social model by the beginning of June when approximately 40 draft laws/amendments to the laws were submitted by the Ministry of Social Security and Labour (SADM) to the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania (LRS) for reading. The LRS postponed the reading of the legal acts above until the autumn session.

In response, three national peak trade union organisations, unsatisfied about the draft social model and the process it was considered, held a number of protest actions near the LRS and government (LRV) and the headquarters of the ruling parties in various cities of Lithuania. During the protest actions, more than 60 thousand signatures of employees were gathered by the middle of June. Trade unions accused the President and the LRS and LRV of violating the principles of social dialogue. In addition, several sectoral trade unions (Trade Union of Lithuanian Food Producers (LMP), the Union of Lithuanian Physicians (LGS), the Association of Trade Unions of Lithuanian Higher Education Schools (LAMPSS)), as well as trade unions of large enterprises (such as Utenos trikotazas) expressed their public disagreemeThe draft legislation for a new social model has prompted widespread protest from trade unions who fear that the new law will undermine social guarantees and have a negative effects on working conditions. nt with the drafted social model. According to trade unions, the new social model is aimed at the fundamental amendment of legal provisions regulating labour relations and social issues which will considerably reduce the current social guarantee of employees and have negative effects on working conditions. Having reviewed the new draft Labour Code, the Women’s Centre  of the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LPSK) concluded that a number of provisions important for gender equality were omitted in the draft. Trade unions are also concerned about the proposed significant reduction of guarantees for pregnant women and for young children under the age of three.

In July, trade unions agreed to organise a mass protest action against the new legislation on 10 September 2015.

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