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Trade Unions

 

There is one trade union confederation in Latvia, the LBAS, and almost all significant unions belong to it. Union density is relatively low, at about 12%, and is much higher in the public than in the private sector.

The LBAS, which had 91,496 members in 2018, is the only union confederation in Latvia, and adding the membership of some smaller unions, this probably takes total union membership to around 95,000.[1] With 805,000 employees in Latvia, this produces a union density figure of 11.8%.[2]The ICTWSS database also estimates union density in Latvia at 11.8% in 2018.[3]

 

There are 20 individual unions affiliated to the LBAS, which was founded in 1990 and replaced the former union structure in Latvia, which existed when the country was part of the Soviet Union.  These individual affiliates are normally based on a specific industry or occupation. The largest unions are: LIZDA, for the education and science sector, with 24, 218 members (January 2019); the railway and transport workers union, LDzSA, with more than 11,000 members and LVSADA, for the health and social work sector, with 8,000 members. LAKRS, which organises workers in public services and transport, is another union with significant  membership, although recent figures are not available. Internally unions are made up of local organisations at individual workplaces: LIZDA, for example, has 1,110 local trade union organisations, LVSADA has 67 and LAKRS has 219.[4]

 

Some small unions are not affiliated to the LBAS, as a union can be founded by just 50 people. LIDA, which organises 2,700 police and other similar staff such as border guards, was formerly outside the confederation, but joined LBAS in 2017. In March 2020 a total of 223 trade unions were registered in Latvia.[5]

 

The LBAS is formally politically neutral in Latvia’s complex and changing party political structure, although it plays an important role with the employers’ confederation in developing the country’s economic and social policies

 

Unions have lost a large number of members since independence in 1991. As recently as 1995 LBAS had more than 275,000 members. However, despite giving a high priority to recruitment, membership in LBAS unions has continued to fall. In 2008 the LBAS had 134,422 members compared with 91,496 today. Membership is still higher in the public than in the private sector, although there are union members in former state-owned companies that have now been privatised and in some companies owned by multinationals.

 

The clear majority of trade unionists in Latvia are women. The LBAS’s response to the annual ETUC gender equality survey in 2019 indicates that 61% of the members of LBAS unions are female.[6]

[1] ETUC Annual Gender Equality Survey 2019 – 12th edition, by Lionel Fulton and Cinzia Sechi, ETUC, April 2019  https://www.etuc.org/sites/default/files/circular/file/2019-05/ETUC_Annual_Equality_Survey%202019_FINAL_EN.pdf Arodbiedrības aicina zem lietussarga -

[2] Employment figures from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, Table NB070c. Employed by professional status, sex and quarter, 2018

[3] Jelle Visser, ICTWSS Data base. Version 6.1. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies AIAS. October 2019

[4] Figures for individual unions’ membership  and number of local organisations from their websites

[5] Email from Latvian official register http://www.ur.gov.lv 1 April 2020

[6] ETUC Annual Gender Equality Survey 2019 – 12th edition, by Lionel Fulton and Cinzia Sechi, ETUC, April 2019  https://www.etuc.org/sites/default/files/circular/file/2019-05/ETUC_Annual_Equality_Survey%202019_FINAL_EN.pdf

L. Fulton (2020) National Industrial Relations, an update. Labour Research Department and ETUI (online publication). Online publication available at http://www.worker-participation.eu/National-Industrial-Relations.