Amalgamation creates largest education and sectoral union

The education sector in Lithuania has, over the years, been represented by several large trade unions. The country’s unions have traditionally been very strong, and have flexed their muscles with strikes and protest campaigns. They have also negotiated higher than average wage rises for members. In November 2013, the two largest trade unions in the education sector amalgamated to form the largest sectoral trade union in the country, uniting almost 10,000 members.

Background

Traditionally, Lithuania’s trade unions in the education sector have been among the strongest in the country. Unions have staged a number of strikes and protest campaigns over the past decade, and have managed to negotiate better wages for Lithuanian teachers compared to other public sector employees (LT1210019I, LT1112029I, LT1006019I).

The strongest trade union in the Lithuanian education sector, the Trade Union of Lithuanian Educational Employees (LŠDPS), was broken up in 2007. Following this split, teachers’ unions underwent a series of transformations between 2008 and 2013. There were mergers, separations and more splits among the various organisations.

The education sector was left with a number of functioning trade unions, but by November 2013 the largest two were the Federation of Lithuanian Education and Science Trade Unions (LŠMPSF) with around 7,000 members, and the Trade Union of Lithuanian Educational Institutions’ Employees (LŠĮPS) having about 2,000 members.

LŠMPSF is a federation made up of two trade unions – the Lithuanian Education Trade Union (LŠPS) and the Association of Trade Unions of Lithuanian Higher Education Schools (LAMPSS).

LŠDPS still has around 1,500 members, while the Lithuanian Teachers’ Union (LMPS) represents around 800 members.

Agreement comes after two years of cooperation

On 4 October 2011, LŠPS and LŠĮPS signed an agreement to cooperate in organising various events such as pickets, public rallies, conferences, and a two-day token strike. Currently, unions are battling to stop education funding cuts in 2014 and to prevent the financial resources allocated for education being used to fund municipal debts.

On 31 October 2013 the Chairs of LŠPS and LŠĮPS, Audrius Jurgelevičius and Eugenijus Jesinas, signed an agreement. This led to the formation of the Joint Representation of Trade Unions in the Education Sector to negotiate and draft a sectoral collective agreement in education.

A meeting of LŠMPSF was held on 7 November 2013, where representatives of LŠPS and LAMPSS jointly resolved to admit a new member, LŠĮPS, into LŠMPSF.

As soon as amendments to the Articles of Association of LŠMPSF are registered, LŠĮPS will acquire full membership rights with LŠMPSF.

Now that the membership of LŠMPSF has grown close to 10,000, the trade union enjoys the highest membership in the education sector. It also has the largest membership in the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LPSK).

Inga Blažienė, Institute of Labour of the Lithuanian Social Research Centre

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