2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Lithuania
|Publisher||International Trade Union Confederation|
|Publication Date||9 June 2007|
|Cite as||International Trade Union Confederation, 2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Lithuania, 9 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52ca212.html [accessed 20 September 2014]|
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182
Some restrictions on the right to strike have been lifted, but the excessive ban on strikes in the public service remains a problem. In the first half of the year a trade union confederation suffered intervention from the state authorities.
Trade union rights in law
Freedom of Association: The Law on Trade Unions recognises the right to form and join trade unions, a right that is extended to the police force. The law applies to employees and civil servants, and trade unions want to change that to include all types of workers.
To be registered, unions must have at least 30 founding members in large enterprises in a single sector, or represent at least 20 per cent of all employees in small enterprises.
To register as legal entities trade unions have to fill in a lot of documents and, if they want to register at a company's address, they must get their employer's permission. If this permission is not granted, the union can use the home address of its leader.
Collective bargaining: The Law on Collective Agreements provides for collective bargaining for all employees except government employees involved in law enforcement or security-related work. Trade unions have the right to negotiate collective agreements at the national, territorial or branch level. The 2003 Labour Code establishes collective bargaining as the main tool to regulate labour relations.
Strike restrictions: The Law on Trade Unions recognises the right to strike. Civil servants in the Ministry of Internal Affairs are not allowed to strike, exceeding the ILO definition of essential services where strikes may be restricted. In May 2005 the Labour Code was amended in line with ILO recommendations to allow strikes in heating and gas supply companies, and to relax the rules for organising a strike.
Employers must be given notice in writing at least seven days prior to the beginning of the intended strike. Strikes at the sectoral and national level are not regulated, which, for example, allowed the government to allege that the healthcare workers' planned strike in May 2005 was illegal (eventually the strike did not take place).
Works' Councils: A law introducing Works' Councils was adopted in October 2004. Works' Councils may be established in enterprises with 20 or more employees or where there is no trade union present.
Trade union rights in practice
Intimidation: There have been cases of employees punished for attempting to organise. Fixed term contracts and the informal economy also make organising difficult. For example, the fixed term contracts of trade union members in some large retail stores have not been renewed on expiry.
Ineffective legal protection: The judicial system is slow in dealing with unfair dismissal cases. There are no labour courts or judges specialised in labour disputes. Furthermore, the trade union organiser has to prove that he or she was dismissed due to trade union activities which is impossible in most cases. No employer has yet had to face the penal sanctions foreseen by law for anti-union discrimination.
Tripartism: Tripartism is fairly well-developed at the national level in Lithuania, with many tripartite forums, notably the Tripartite Council. A tripartite agreement signed in June 2005 obliges workers' and employers' central organisations to facilitate bipartite dialogue and to abstain from industrial action on some socio-economic issues, provided that the government fulfils its commitments under the said agreement.
Bargaining rare: Collective bargaining is relatively rare in practice. Managers often determine wages without entering into bargaining with the unions, except in larger factories with well organised unions. Less than 20 per cent of workers are covered by collective agreements. The first national level bipartite agreement was only signed in 2005. In March the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LPSK, affiliated to the ITUC) and the Lithuanian Confederation of industrialists launched a joint project to improve sectoral level collective bargaining.
Violations in 2006
Government interference: The national confederation LPSS Solidarumas (affiliated to the ITUC) suffered unacceptable interference into its activities when the public authorities overstepped the limits of what would be acceptable pursuant to the ILO standards in the course of pre-trial investigation of alleged embezzlement.
In January, a member of the co-ordinating committee lodged a complaint of embezzlement against the confederation's president with the prosecutor's office. This complaint was later dismissed. On 31 January the confederation's offices were searched without the proper court warrant, documents that would have been available from the notary were seized, and the computer was taken away, although that was not foreseen in investigators' warrant. The search had not been announced and the police would have taken all trade union documentation away if it had not been for the intervention of the ITUC (then ICFTU) field representative.
On 2 February the court suspended the then Acting President of the confederation, Petras Grebliauskas, from his post and from engaging in any trade union activities for six months. He was not allowed to enter the trade union building or communicate with the members of trade union governing bodies. Mr. Grebliauskas's home was also searched and the organisation's accounts were blocked. Although these measures were later lifted, it paralysed trade union work for several months, just prior to the Solidarumas congress. The confederation saw these clearly disproportionate measures by the public authorities, taken on the basis of an ill-founded complaint, as serving the interests of financial and political groups that wanted to benefit from trade union assets.