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2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Latvia

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Latvia, 9 June 2010, available at: [accessed 25 November 2017]
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: 2,200,000
Capital: Riga
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111

The right to bargain collectively is not guaranteed in practice, and multinationals tend to avoid bargaining altogether. The thresholds for forming trade unions are too high, and the right to strike is restricted.

Trade union rights in law

Certain limitations apply despite basic trade union rights being guaranteed in the Constitution. Every union must have at least 50 members, or not less than one quarter of the workers employed in the unit, profession or sector. 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.

The right to strike is restricted as the decision to initiate strike action must be taken by a three-quarters' majority at a quorum where ¾ of the employees or members are present. Furthermore, solidarity strikes are illegal unless the dispute concerns a sectoral level collective agreement, and political strikes are prohibited. 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, is somewhat too elaborate.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: The social turmoil triggered by the financial crisis led to the fall of the government in February. Anti-crisis measures involving wage and staff cuts in the public service were adopted without a proper dialogue with trade unions, and a number of street protests took place during the year. Unemployment had soared to 22.3% by the end of the year – the highest jobless rate in the EU.

Collective bargaining hampered: The new law "On the Remuneration of State and Local Government Institutions Officials and Employees" has created problems for collective bargaining agents in the public sector, since it outlaws all monetary benefits under collective agreements unless they are directly provided by law. Some public employers also refuse to bargain collectively, for example the bus company "Ogres autobuss".

Multinationals shun collective agreements: According to estimations by the Latvian Trade Union Confederation (LBAS), there are fewer collective bargaining agreements in multinationals than in other companies in the private sector. Foreign companies in general and multinationals in particular are reluctant to apply collective agreements to their Latvian branches. Commerce, banking and personal services are the most difficult sectors. On the other hand, LBAS reports that if a multinational does conclude an agreement, compliance is better than in other companies.

New violations at Latvenergo: Latvenergo and the related companies Sadales tikls and Augstsprieguma tikls that were mentioned in the 2009 edition of the Survey for attempting to abolish the check-off system, used the law "On the Remuneration of State and Local Government Institutions Officials and Employees" as an excuse for refusing to implement some provisions of the collective agreement. As a result, workers' salaries decreased by approximately 15%. The conflict was later settled through negotiation.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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