Tripartite Council plans expansion aimed at wider representation
In September 2008, the Tripartite Council of the Republic of Lithuania (LRTT) – which brings together representatives of the government, trade unions and employers to discuss social, economic and labour issues – agreed plans to expand. Additional unions, employer organisations and government ministries will be included and non-governmental organisations will be involved in the LRTT’s work. A final decision on the LRTT’s expansion is due by the end of 2008.
The Tripartite Council of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Tišalė taryba, LRTT) is the country’s top-level tripartite partnership institution, dealing with social, economic and labour issues and seeking to reach consensus on them (LT0501103F). At meetings of the LRTT, the government and social partners carry out the following: examine social, economic and labour issues and submit proposals on how to tackle them; consider draft laws and other regulatory norms within the LRTT’s sphere; submit findings and recommendations to parliament and the government; and carry out a number of other functions. Based on a tripartite agreement, the LRTT is made up of equal numbers of representatives of national trade union organisations, employer organisations and the government, all with equal rights. Since its establishment in 1995, the LRTT has had 15 members, five from each party.
In 2006 (LT0607039I), the LRTT discussed the possibility of expanding the Council to include representatives of civil society/non-governmental organisations (NGOs) but took no decision on the matter.
At a meeting in early September 2008, the LRTT returned to this issue and passed two resolutions regarding its own expansion. The first calls for an increase in the membership of the LRTT from 15 to 21 and the second relates to the creation of a Quadripartite Civic Dialogue Committee within the LRTT.
Increased representation of social partners and government
Currently, employers are represented on the LRTT by two ‘peak’ national employer organisations – the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists (Lietuvos pramonininkų konfederacija, LPK) and the Lithuanian Business Employers’ Confederation (Lietuvos verslo darbdavių konfederacija, LVDK). The LRTT now suggests that representatives from the Association of Lithuanian Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Crafts (Lietuvos prekybos, pramonės ir amatų rūmų asociacija, LPPARA) and the Chamber of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos žemės ūkio rūmai, LRŽŪR) are included too.
The Ministry of Social Security and Labour (Lietuvos Respublikos Socialinės apsaugos ir darbo ministerija, SADM), the Ministry of Education and Science (Švietimo ir mokslo ministerija, ŠMM), the Ministry of Economy (Ūkio ministerija, ŪM), the Ministry of Finance (Finansų ministerija, FM) and the Ministry of Agriculture (Žemės ūkio ministerija, ŽŪM) are represented on the LRTT at present. The LRTT now wants to invites representatives from other ministries to attend – the Ministry of Health (Sveikatos apsaugos ministerija, SAM), the Ministry of Transport and Communications (Susisiekimo ministerija, SM) and the Ministry of the Interior (Vidaus reikalų ministerija, VRM).
The three peak trade union organisations represented on the LRTT – the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (Lietuvos profesinių sąjungų konfederacija, LPSK), the Lithuanian Labour Federation (Lietuvos darbo federacija, LDF) and the Lithuanian Trade Union ‘Solidarumas’ (Lietuvos profesinė sąjunga ‘Solidarumas’, LPS ‘Solidarumas’) – share the opinion that two new union representatives could be added to the LRT. One would represent regional associations of trade unions and one would represent independent unions that do not belong to any of the peak organisations.
Involvement of NGOs
With a view to involving representatives of NGOs in its activities, the LRTT resolved to set up a ‘coordination working group’, made up of LRTT members, and to delegate to it preparations for the establishment of a new Quadripartite Civic Dialogue Committee. This involves drawing up the Committee’s regulations and agreeing the Committee’s composition, based on the principle of equal representation of LRTT members and NGO representatives. According to the LRTT, representatives of NGO could join it fully in future. In this case, the LRTT would be reformed and an Economic and Social Council of Lithuania would be formed on a quadripartite basis.
Following the adoption of the two resolutions, the LRTT is now engaging an extensive process of deliberations, discussions and negotiations, and is planning to take a final decision on its expansion by 31 December 2008.
Inga Blaziene, Institute of Labour and Social Research