Population: 3,400,000
Capital: Vilnius
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The new legislation relaxed the rules on calling a strike, although some restrictions remain. Anti-union behaviour remains a problem and women trade union leaders at a brewery suffered from anti-union harassment.

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. All citizens and permanent residents of the country who are at least 14 years old and employed are allowed to form and join trade unions.

The ITUC-affiliated Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LPSK) reports that workers who get fired cannot keep their trade union membership. LPSK is working on changing this.

A company-level trade union must comprise either 30 members or one-fifth of the total workforce (though never have less than three members).

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, sectoral or enterprise level. In June, the Parliament amended the Law on Public Services to facilitate sectoral-level collective bargaining in public administration. Public authorities have been placed on the same footing as employers' organisations and additional issues can now be covered by sectoral-level collective agreements for civil servants.

Right to strike: 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 in which strikes may be restricted. Strikes can be called if a collective dispute has not been settled by negotiations, conciliation, mediation, or, if agreed to by the parties, by third party arbitration, or again if the settlement has not been implemented. No additional demands to those addressed during the conciliation or mediation procedure can be put forward during the strike.

In June, the parliament amended the labour code, relaxing the strike ballot rules. A strike may be called if approved, in a secret ballot, by at least half of the employees where the strike concerns the whole enterprise, or, where the strike only concerns a particular structural unit, by half of those employed in the said unit. A vote is not required for "token" strikes lasting two hours or less. Solidarity strikes are not allowed.

Employers must be given notice in writing at least seven days (and at least 14 days in essential services) before the beginning of an intended strike Strikes at sectoral and national level are not regulated, which allowed the government to allege that the healthcare workers' planned strike in May 2005 was illegal.

If the court declares a strike illegal, the trade union may be liable for damages. The ITUC-affiliated Lithuanian Labour Federation (LDF) reports that, where trade union funds are insufficient, the employer may draw on funds that have been set aside to pay workers any additional bonuses or compensation under the collective agreement.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Hostile employers: The LDF reported that many employers openly opposed organising. Many leaders of newly established trade unions faced intimidation, harassment, disciplinary action and even dismissal.

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 s/he was dismissed due to trade union activities, which is impossible in most cases.

Anti-union Svyturys brewery: Reluctant to meet workers' demands, particularly regarding their exhausting work schedule, the employer at this brewery preferred to subject the women trade union leaders to intimidation and harassment and to force them to resign from their jobs at the Svyturys brewery (owned by Baltic Beverages Holding – BBH). The relationship between the management and the Trade Union of Food Workers had been strained for over seven years. The employees were also asked to make written statements of no confidence in the union. The trade union tried to resolve the conflict with the BBH headquarters, but to no avail. Their media campaign was more successful, however, and the anti-union policies in at least one other BBH brewery were publicised. After a preliminary review by the office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson, the case is currently being handled by the General Prosecutor's office.

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