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2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Latvia

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 - Latvia, 6 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fd8893f2d.html [accessed 21 August 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: 2,068,000
Capital: Riga

ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

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))

Reported Violations – 2012

Murders: none reported
Attempted Murders: none reported
Threats: none reported
Injuries: none reported
Arrests: none reported
Imprisonments: none reported
Dismissals: none reported

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher

Introduction

Economic conditions continue to make it difficult for trade unions and members to fully utilise their rights. In particular there are difficulties in the right to collective bargaining, both in law and in practice.

Background

After steep economic decline in previous years, the Latvian economy has returned to growth (estimated at 4.6%). However, unemployment is still high at 14.8% and budgetary consolidation measures are still being implemented. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis was once again returned to power after September's parliamentary elections, but his coalition government has no formal majority.

Trade union rights in law

Certain limitations apply despite basic trade union rights being guaranteed in the Constitution. Border guards are not allowed to form or join trade unions.

Collective bargaining is recognised except for special service ranks in the Ministry of the Interior and Prison Administration. However there is little scope to bargain on employment conditions in the public administration. Furthermore, the criteria to determine the most representative organisation is uncertain and in a time of economic crisis there is no effective mechanism to prevent employers from leaving the relevant employers' organisation and therefore withdrawing from the sectoral collective agreement.

The right to strike is restricted. If the legality of the strike is challenged in court, the strike cannot be started until the decision of the court has been issued. Furthermore, solidarity strikes are illegal unless the dispute concerns a sectoral level collective agreement. Some categories of workers are unduly excluded from the right to strike, and the list of "essential services", in which a minimum service must be established, exceeds the ILO definition.

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

In practice

No entry for this country for this year

Violations

Telecoms company seeks to undermine collective agreement:

In January 2011, the Communication Workers Trade Union (CWTU) discovered that the management of Riga-based Lattelecom was failing to comply with its responsibilities provided for by a collective agreement, particularly in relation to the company pension fund.

A compromise was reached by the Conciliation Commission and

on 16 March the parties signed an agreement reducing Lattelecom's contributions by half. However, after signing the employer embarked on an anti-union campaign with the intention of damaging the image of the trade union and discrediting it in the eyes of employees, thereby seeking to gain an opportunity to withdraw from fulfilling the compromise agreement.

A positive and effective intervention by the State Labour Inspectorate improved the situation. This obliged Lattelecom to make contributions to the pension fund and fulfil its responsibilities. Subsequently, however, Lattelecom employees were prevented from communicating with the CWTU (by making it impossible to connect to the CWTU webpage and to send e-mails to the e-mail addresses of the CWTU officials).

Following a meeting of the National Tripartite Cooperation Committee on 27 May, a reconciliation agreement was signed on 15 July, which restored normality and the internet connection was re-established. Nonetheless, challenges still remain; on 20 October it was reported that Lattelecom denied the CWTU Vice President access to Lattelecom facilities in Liepaja.

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