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Collective Bargaining

There is virtually no collective bargaining other than at company or organisation level, and even here the extent of bargaining is limited. Since 2004 elected works councils have bargaining rights if there are no unions present, but there is no evidence so far that this has increased the coverage of bargaining.

The framework

The law permits collective bargaining at four levels: national, industrial, territorial (regional, county or municipal) and company/organisation level. However, although there have been national accords dealing with broad aspects of policy, in practice collective bargaining is largely limited to company/organisation level and even there only affects a small minority of employees.

 

 

There is no accurate or official information on the number of company level/organisation agreements as, unlike industry and territorial level agreements, there is no requirement for them to be registered. However, in 2009 2013 EIRO reported that, experts estimatedgiven that 10% of employees were in unions, that perhaps 1520% of all employees were covered by collective agreements.1 This may now be an overestimate.

 

 

Figures from inspections by the state labour inspectorate in 2011 2012 show that only 273 204 companies and organisations had signed a collective agreement out of 12,325 inspected – only 2.23.0%. Figures for 2010 were similarslightly lower, with 12,411 inspections and 248 collective agreements – 2.2% and 2.0%. of companies inspected signing agreements in the year. However, both years are well down on early earlier figures: 7.0% in . In 2007, and there were 1,238 company/organisation level collective agreements in 17,600 inspected companies and organisations – 7.0%; and in 2006 there were 1,157 agreements in 18,872 inspections – 6.1% in 2006. The ministry of labour, which supplied this information, stated in 2011states that this sharp fall was is a result ofbecause “the economic crisis, when companies were reluctant to make agreements with trade unions.” In 2013, its view was that “the impact of the long-term economic crisis was still visibleis still felt,.” although it also stated However, the level of agreements observed duringthat “the growth of social partnership, observed in 2006-2008 is still “an goal objective to be attained”.2

 

 

Industry- level and regional agreements are have been even less common, despite although support from the European Union, encouraging collective bargaining at this these levels, appears to have made some difference. Until recently, Aapart from agreements for state companies which cover the whole country, such as the postal service or the railways – which are better seen as company agreements – the onlythere was only one industry -level collective agreement, currently registered with the ministry of labour is that between journalists and the association of newspaper publishers. There were no regional agreements, which does not set pay levels and was signed in 2007. However, as a direct result of a European project promoting bargaining 15 new industry-level agreements and 32 regional agreements were signed in a period of less than two years up to the end of 2013. In addition, this project also led to the signing of 253 company-level agreements.

 

 

In contrast, at territorial level there has been a recent breakthrough. The first ever regional agreement was signed in October 2012. It covers the 600 employees of 12 construction companies in Western Lithuania and deals with pay as well as health and safety and working conditions.3

 

 

At national level, an agreement between all three union confederations, the main employers’ associations, a number of bodies representing other social groups, such as pensioners and farmers, and the government was signed in October 2009. This agreement primarily dealt with the way the government planned to tackle the country’s economic and financial crisis, with sections on the government’s taxation and economic policy. However, it also covered pay and employment in the public sector andbut included an agreement that the pay of public servants would be reduced by an average of 10%, although in a way that differed from the government’s initial proposals. This agreement expired at the end of 2010 and attempts to reach a new agreement in 2011 were unsuccessful. In 2012, discussions began on a new version of the agreement running until 2016, with the initial intention of signing it before the general election in October. However, the all three confederations finally rejected the proposed text in the autumn of 2012, arguing that it did not take their concerns into account.4

 

 

In addition at national level, there is a highly structured system of consultation between unions, employers and government with the Tripartite Council of the Republic of Lithuania (LRTT) at the top and several specialist councils, covering issues like health and safety and training underneath. All three union confederations are represented on these councils. The Tripartite Council in particular has played a key role in developing the country’s system of industrial relations and also makes proposals to the government on the minimum wage.

 

Who negotiates and when?

At industry level negotiations take place between unions and employers’ associations.

 

 

At company level negotiations are normally between the employer and the union in the company, or by the unions jointly if there are several. If there is no trade union at the workplace the employees can transfer their bargaining rights to the appropriate industry union, although this appears to be relatively rare – the labour inspectorate identified only 89 examples in 2011.note5 However, if there is no union present and the bargaining rights have not been transferred to a union, negotiations can be conducted by the elected works council (see section on workplace representation). This principle was set out in new legislation in 2003, which came into effect in October 2004. The stated aim of this revision was to extend the coverage of collective bargaining. Company-level collective agreements should be submitted to a meeting of the workforce for approval.

 

 

Some agreements are for a fixed term, normally for a year, and some are indefinite, running until there is a request for a revision. Where they are for a fixed term, negotiations should start two months before the termination of the old agreement.

 

 

The subject of the negotiations

Issues covered by negotiations include pay, working time, health and safety at work, training and procedural issues.

Lithuania has a national minimum wage which is set by the government following proposals from the Tripartite Commission.

L. Fulton (2015) Worker representation in Europe. Labour Research Department and ETUI. Produced with the assistance of the SEEurope Network, online publication available at http://www.worker-participation.eu/National-Industrial-Relations.