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After several months of negotiations, the government of the Republic of
Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Vyriausybė, LRV ) and the social partners
– the national peak trade union and employer organisations – finally
signed a national agreement providing for measures to combat the recession on
28 October 2009.
In the spring of 2009, the government appointed a tripartite working group to
examine the issue of extending working life. Both trade unions and employers
groups are represented. Before the induction of the working group, the trade
union side rejected the government’s proposal to raise the retirement age
from 63 to 65 years (*FI0903019I* ).
The National Institute of Statistics conducted an ad hoc module on health
and safety at the workplace as part of the Household Labour Force Survey in
the second quarter of 2007. Among the main topics covered were accidents at
the workplace and factors that may impair physical and mental health at work.
The survey highlights significant differences according to sector, employment
status, age, gender and location, revealing a distinct rural–urban divide.
In terms of Act No. 663/2007 on the minimum wage in force since February
2008, discussion about the minimum wage for 2009 started with the
negotiations among the social partners at the peak national level. The
economic crisis affected the negotiations and thus they ended without any
agreement being reached between the social partners. The Slovakian
Confederation of Trade Unions (Konfederácia odborových zväzov Slovenskej
republiky, KOZ SR ) requested a 9% increase in the minimum wage, which was
close to the increase agreed in 2008 (*SK0811019I* ).
The current debate about reforming the Swedish labour market model should be
considered within the context of recent debates and developments, such as the
Laval case  (*SE0905029I* , SE0706029I , SE0801019I , SE0804029I
, SE0811029I , SE0901029I ) and the breakdown in negotiations
between the peak national social partner organisations to reach a new central
agreement earlier this year (SE0903029I , *SE0908029I* ).
At a meeting of the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation (NCTC), the
government recently presented its draft for the 2010 budget, which
encompassed zero deficits in order to avoid a prolonged recession and
currency pressure. Revenue sources were, once again, made dependent on
indirect tax proceeds – including through increases in excise duties on
tobacco and on electricity used in industry. Direct taxes – that is, on
workers’ incomes and businesses – are to remain unchanged. With regard to
budgetary spending, the government has earmarked five priority areas: namely,
social measures, healthcare, education, the environment and transport
On 20 and 21 October 2009, the Executive Committee of the European Trade
Union Confederation (ETUC ) adopted a ‘Resolution on climate change’.
The resolution was developed in the context of a major document debated at a
meeting earlier that month and in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate
conference due to take place in December. The document – entitled Climate
change, new industrial policies and ways out of the crisis  – provides a
detailed account of the trade union position on climate change policies. It
affirms that the trade unions at EU level support policies aimed at cutting
carbon emissions and at developing greener jobs. However, it also argues that
these objectives can only be achieved in the context of social partner
involvement, with ‘the information/consultation/negotiation procedures and
processes at both company and sector level in need[ing] to be as rich as
possible’, while recognising the need to enable workers to adapt to new
After the new collective agreement in the technology industry that opened the
2009 bargaining round, wage negotiations have been at a standstill. In fact,
many sectors are now at a stage where no agreement is in force. Thus, there
seems to be little commitment to harmony in the labour market. In mid
November 2009, the Finnish Airline Pilots’ Association (Suomen
Liikennelentäjäliitto, SLL ) rejected a national conciliator’s
settlement proposal to avert industrial action, and a strike of 800 pilots
grounded the flights of the national airline carrier, Finnair.
Under Royal Decree 4/2008 of 19 September (in Spanish, 40Kb PDF) , the
Non-EU Foreign Workers’ Voluntary Return Programme allows for the early
lump-sum payment of unemployment contributory benefits to non-EU foreign
workers who are voluntarily returning to their home country. The benefits are
granted in two payments: 40% of the total amount is paid in Spain, and the
remaining 60% is granted to the individual when they return to their home
country after a period of 30 days. The programme, which was approved a year
ago, is voluntary and, according to the government, aims to alleviate the
situation of one of the groups most negatively affected by the economic
crisis. In addition, individuals receiving the benefit may be offered the
possibility of returning home together with their family, through a
travel-finance assistance programme.