Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 December 2014, 12:47 GMT

2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Lithuania

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 6 June 2012
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Lithuania, 6 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fd8893d4.html [accessed 25 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 3,324,000
Capital: Vilnius

ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

29 (Forced Labour (1930))
87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948))
98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949))
100 (Equal Remuneration for Work of Equal Value (1951))
105 (Abolition of Forced Labour (1957))
111 (Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (1958))
138 (Minimum Age for Employment (1973))
182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999))

Reported Violations – 2012

Attempted Murders: 1
Threats: 1
Dismissals: 1

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher

Introduction

The austere economic climate is only slowly improving; a situation which continues to present challenges to the trade unions, both in terms of securing their own rights and also in terms of defending the interests of their members.

Background

Following the very sharp decline in the economy in 2009 and 2010, the Lithuanian economy returned to growth in 2011, forecast at 6.7% in the third quarter. However, unemployment remained high at above 15%. Trades unions protested against austerity measures in March 2011, with a particular focus on raising the minimum wage, which is one of the lowest in the European Union.

Trade union rights in law

Despite recent amendments to the Labour Code, a number of restrictions to trade union rights still apply. The law recognises the right to form and join trade unions, but at least 20 members or one-tenth of the total workforce is required to create a union. Workers who are dismissed cannot keep their trade union membership.

The right to collective bargaining is secured in both the private and the public sector, except for certain government employees.

The right to strike is rather limited: strikes are only possible if all dispute resolution procedures have been exhausted and can only be called in connection with collective disputes. Solidarity strikes and sympathy strikes are thus not covered. Furthermore, employers have the right to replace striking workers in certain sectors, when minimum services are not provided, including public transport and waste disposal. The authorities can decide on the minimum service to be established during a strike if the parties fail to reach an agreement.

Link to additional detailed information regarding the legislation on the ITUC website here

In practice

No entry for this country for this year

Violations

Victimisation of trade union leader: The chairman of the trade union at the State Border Guard Service, Vladimir Band, was threatened by his employer with dismissal in December 2010. The union refused to give its consent to this move. In a subsequent court case brought by the employer, the court ruled on 31 March 2011 that Mr Band had been victimised because of his trade union duties. State officials were however not punished for this violation.

Company director loses job for signing collective agreement: The director of the state-owned company Turto Bankas, Jonas Budrevicius, signed a collective agreement with the trade union, which reduced employees' pay for a limited period of one year. A decision was made to dismiss Mr Budrevicius in August 2010 because the collective agreement was not in favour of the company. On 9 June 2011 a court ruled in favour of Mr Budrevicius and awarded him redundancy pay. However, the appeal court overturned this decision on 16 November 2011. Lithuanian trade unions believe this is indicative of the Lithuanian government's unwillingness to promote collective bargaining and demonstrates why the density of collective agreements in the country is so low.

Beer declared essential to stop strike at Carlsberg:

On 10 June members of the Lithuanian Trade Union of Food Producers (LPMS) voted in favour of strike action at the Carlsberg brewery in Lithuania in support of their demand for a decent company-level collective agreement. Management sought to stop the strike taking place and took legal action to have it declared illegal. Ten days later the Klaipeda district court suspended the start of the planned strike for 30 days on the grounds that the production of beer was recognized as 'vitally essential' in Lithuania. On 5 July the Klaipeda city district court ruled that the strike was legal. The management of Carlsberg Lithuania then appealed against this decision and in turn on 5 August the Klaipeda regional court annulled the decision of the lower court, ruling that the brewery strike announced in June was indeed illegal. The LPMS has appealed to a higher court in an attempt to get the verdict overturned, and has also submitted a complaint to the ILO as the suspension of the right to strike for such a long period contravenes ILO norms. The case is also important as it involves a private manufacturer.

In the meantime, Carlsberg Lithuania has sought to put pressure on union leaders and activists at its plant, including dismissing nine activists and re-engaging them on poorer, temporary contracts.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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