Social partners sign agreement for taxi services

In September 2007, a general agreement was signed for taxi operations, covering wages, work safety, commencement and termination of employment relations, training, regulations governing work procedures and social protection for workers. The agreement underlines the cooperation of the employer organisation in the sphere of social partnership and aims to ensure efficient taxi services and development of operations within the transport sector.

The General Agreement for taxi operations, which forms part of the transport sector, was concluded on 25 September 2007 between the Latvian Taxi Sector Employer Organisation (Latvijas vieglo taksometru nozares darba devēju organizācija, LVTNDDO) and the Latvian Taxi Union (Latvijas vieglo taksometru arodbiedrība, LVTA), based on Article 18 (2) of the Latvian Labour Law. The aim of the agreement is to ensure stable and efficient taxi services, development of operations and social guarantees for the employees concerned.

The contracting parties have agreed on wages, work safety organisation, commencement and termination of employment relations, improvement of workers’ qualifications, regulations governing work procedures and social protection for workers.

The agreement came into effect on the day it was published in the newspaper Latvijas Vestnesis. As of that date, it is binding for all employers involved in taxi operations and all employees employed by those employers in the Republic of Latvia, since LVTNDDO members employ over 50% of the employees engaged in taxi operations.

Content of agreement

The general agreement stipulates the minimum obligations and duties of the parties. These can be improved in collective agreements if the latter are concluded between LVTNDDO and the LTVA. Collective agreements, work regulations, employment contracts and orders from employers which – in contradiction to the provisions of the general agreement – reduce the legal rights of an employee are invalid. The parties have agreed to set up a working group, including two representatives from each side, to oversee the fulfilment of the general agreement’s obligations.

Most aspects of the agreement are drawn from provisions already contained in Latvian labour laws, but several additional provisions have also been made.

Pay

In relation to the pay issue, the parties agree that the payment system for taxi operations is stipulated in special bylaws. The payment system can only be changed through negotiations and agreement between LVTNDDO and LTVA. Employees’ wages may not be reduced due to changes in state taxes. However, the general agreement does not specify exact figures for work payment indicators.

Social partnership

The parties have agreed to cooperate in the social partnership sphere. This encompasses consultations between them and the alignment of activities, punctual appraisal of correspondence, development of common policies in taxi operations, and a common position on the collective agreement.

LVTNDDO undertakes to conclude agreements in its member companies by 31 December 2008 for a period of not less than three years. The collective agreement must include five mandatory annexes: on minimum wages for employees; on hiring of employees; on payment of one-off bonuses; on annual leave and annual leave supplements; and bylaws governing the provision of material assistance to employees.

Work safety and social security

The general agreement also stipulates several regulations in relation to work safety and employee social security. The parties have agreed to draft common criteria for additional pension insurance for all employees and, insofar as possible, to conclude contracts for accident, health and life insurance for employees who are LTVA members.

LTVA is not a member of the Latvian Free Trade Union Confederation (Latvijas Brīvo Arodbiedrību savienība, LBAS). Nevertheless, LBAS has provided assistance with regard to the procedures of drafting and signing documents.

Commentary

The signatory parties have affirmed their right to conclude such an agreement in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Latvia and the articles of corporation of the organisations. Both sides have recognised the other as sole representatives of employee and employer organisations respectively.

Nevertheless, objections have already been made about the legality of the general agreement covering taxi services since it imposes additional obligations on employers, for example informing the trade unions of every newly hired employee and aligning changes to work schedules with LTVA. The formal reason for the objections is that taxi operations is not a precisely legally defined sector and cannot be separated from passenger transport in vehicles. Moreover, a different trade union is already active in the land transport sector – the Latvian Railways and Transport Workers Union (Latvijas dzelzceļa un satiksmes darbinieku arodbiedrība).

Raita Karnite, Institute of Economics, Latvian Academy of Sciences

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