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Social Dialogue and Industrial Conflict

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Title: Social Dialogue and Industrial Conflict


1
Social Dialogue and Industrial Conflict
  • Seminar 2

2
Structure of seminar
  • Tripartism and bipartism in the new member states
  • The end of social peace?
  • The role of conflict in society
  • The EU and ILO view of labour rights - Social
    Charters and Conventions
  • Case studies of real life industrial disputes

3
1. Tripartism and Bipartism in industrial
relations
  • The role of tripartism as a mechanism of
    transition management
  • The failure to develop bipartite and sectoral
    level bargaining structures
  • Mechanisms of conciliation and conflict resolution

4
Social dialogue in the new member states
  • Consultations between the State and the social
    partners, within tripartite structures which have
    helped to maintain a degree of social consensus,
    concerning the reforms carried out during the
    first years of transition.
  • However, this tripartite dialogue has not led to
    large-scale participation of the social partners
    mainly a top-down process.
  • Consequently, the autonomous social dialogue and
    collective bargaining have not been considered a
    priority a weakness reflected at undertaking
    and sector levels.

5
  • At undertaking level, and particularly among
    private-sector SMEs, forms of social dialogue or
    solid industrial relations are still lacking.
  • Negligible number of sectoral collective
    agreements reflects the weakness of the social
    partners, particularly the employer
    organisations.
  • In general, neither civil servants nor the public
    sector (health, education, transport,
    communications, science and research, for
    example), where significant strikes have
    occurred, have any collective agreements.

6
2.The end of social peace?
  • - growing social polarisation of CEE societies
  • - disappointment of mass expectations of
    material benefits that capitalism would bring
  • - disappointment intensified by the direct
    comparison with new European neighbours
  • - evidence of industrial protest in the
    Accession States- popular realisation that the
    costs of transition have been unevenly carried
  • - privatisation is seen as largely based on
    theft of public property
  • - the distribution of social rewards and benefits
    is increasingly seen as unfair

7
  • A recent analysis of labour disputes in four
    Eastern European countries (Hungary, Poland,
    Slovakia and Slovenia) suggests-
  • it is not clear yet whether the fairly
    peaceful character of industrial relations in
    central and eastern Europe can be maintained in
    the future.
  • (A. Toth and L. Neumann, 2003. Labour dispute
    settlement in four central and eastern European
    countries. European Foundation for the
    Improvement of Living and Working Conditions,
    Dublin. At http//www.eiro.eurofound.eu.int/2003/
    01/study/index.html.)

8
  • ... 'unavoidable major reforms in the public
    services are still to be carried out in all of
    the countries considered'.
  • ... such reforms, 'might lead to the further
    radicalization of public service trade unions',
    an area in which trade unions in CEE are again
    actively recruiting.

9
  • ...'a more aggressive trade union strategy, which
    would seek the redistribution of the benefits of
    productivity gains in the context of employees'
    expectations related to accession to the EU
    (Toth and Neumann)

10
  • - collective bargaining is still weakly
    developed and general decline in trade union
    membership... But
  • contamination legacy of trade unions as part
    of the previous system is potentially being
    overcome in the new context of European
    enlargement
  • - In a few areas trade unions are showing the
    first signs of new members being recruited and a
    renewed class combativeness and class
    consciousness (although less so in the Baltic
    States than elsewhere in CEE)

11
3.The role of conflict in society
  • Strike action by trade unions is viewed by
    national governments in Central and Eastern
    Europe from a strict policy perspective as an
    implicitly or explicitly negative phenomenon
    which might threaten to destabilise the necessary
    processes of economic reconstruction.
  • A different view of conflict..

12
Lewis A. Coser, The Functions of Social Conflict,
(Glencoe Free Press, 1956).
  • Inopen societies, conflict, which aims at the
    resolution of tension between antagonists, is
    likely to have stabilizing and integrative
    functions for the relationship.
  • By permitting immediate and direct expression of
    rival claims, such social systems are able to
    readjust their structures by eliminating the
    sources of dissatisfaction

13
  • These systems avail themselves, through the
    toleration and institutionalization of conflict,
    of an important stabilizing mechanism
  • A flexible society benefits from conflict because
    such behavior, by helping to create and modify
    norms, assures its continuance under changed
    conditions.
  • Such mechanism for readjustment of norms is
    hardly available to rigid systems by suppressing
    conflict, the latter smother a useful warning
    signal, thereby maximizing the danger of
    catastrophic breakdown.

14
the necessary culture of conflict (Kohl)
  • Industrial conflict strikes - are the ultimate
    expression - not simply the failure to resolve
    conflicts in at the workplace, but - an
    acceptable, even necessary articulation of
    emerging interest-based collective bargaining in
    the new market economies.
  • Historically, in capitalist economies, workers
    conditions have only been improved through long
    and sustained struggle by organised labour
    including strike actions.

15
  • The disruption of the surface norms of social
    peace may reveal a more troubled and conflictual
    underlying reality.
  • Labour conflicts can also visibly expose the
    underlying assumptions and attitudes towards
    labour on the part of governments and key elites.
  • The legal regulation of industrial conflict
    precisely locates the centre of gravity of
    effective labour rights the arena of
    post-communist reconstruction.
  • It is an arena has been vacated by the European
    Union not part of EU acquis.

16
Free collective bargaining
  • Withdrawal of labour in order to pressure
    employers into conceding labours demands is a
    democratic right.
  • Industrial action by employees can be viewed as
    intrinsic to the promotion of free collective
    bargaining and more generally as an integral part
    of democratic transformation itself.

17
4. The EU view of labour rights - Social Charters
  • Community and the Member States defined
    fundamental social rights on the basis of two
    texts-
  • the European Social Charter signed at Turin on 18
    October 1961 and
  • the 1989 Community Charter of the Fundamental
    Social Rights of Workers
  • These fundamental social rights mainly concern
    employment, living and working conditions, social
    protection, social dialogue and the combating of
    exclusion
  • But remuneration, the right of association, and
    the right to strike or lock out are not addressed
    at Community level.
  • These issues are addressed in the non-binding
    Revised European Social Charter for Fundamental
    Social Rights 2000 but this does not create
    enforceable rights

18
Revised European Social Charter for Fundamental
Social Rights 2000
  • CHAPTER IV, SOLIDARITY
  • Article 27
  • Workers' right to information and consultation
    within the undertaking
  • Workers or their representatives must, at the
    appropriate levels, be guaranteed information and
    consultation in good time in the cases and under
    the conditions provided for by Community law and
    national laws and practices.

19
Article 28 Right of collective bargaining and
action Workers and employers, or their
respective organisations, have, in accordance
with Community law and national laws and
practices, the right to negotiate and conclude
collective agreements at the appropriate levels
and, in cases of conflicts of interest, to take
collective action to defend their interests,
including strike action.
20
The European Court of Human Rights
  • Wilson, Palmer and Others -v- UK 2002
  • the essence of a voluntary system of collective
    bargaining is that it must be possible for a
    trade union .to take steps including, if
    necessary, organising industrial action with a
    view to persuading the employer to enter into
    collective bargaining.

21
ILO as a standards setter in labour and
employment conditions
  • All EU member states have ratified both the main
    ILO Conventions on trade union rights (87 and 98)
  • In general, trade union rights are respected in
    law and practice in the 15 long-standing EU
    member states. However, in particular in the new
    member countries violations of trade union rights
    take place, and labour legislation does not
    always conform to the ILO Conventions.

22
5. Case studies of real life industrial
disputes in Lithuania
  • Detailed case studies of law in action.
  • The pressures of restrictive labour law
  • Four actions-
  • Marijampole insurrection
  • Anti-liberalisation protests
  • The Vilnius Bus workers dispute 1999-2000.
  • Police officers trade union protest

23
1. The Marijampole insurrection
  • Spring of 2001, over 600 Marijampole county
    farmers together with workers from the local
    sugar beet factory, plus several hundred farmers
    from the Suvalkija region, blocked off the main
    Via Baltica road to Poland.
  • fears for the future of the Marijampoles Cukrus
    sugar factory - demands of the protestors
    included the firing of the agriculture minister
    and the retention of their jobs.

24
Marijampole
  • protestors were angered by a decision made by the
    government to stop issuing price guarantees for
    sugar, and dissatisfied by what they perceived to
    be a too small sugar production quota for
    Marijampoles Cukrus.
  • Their ultimate fear was that these cutbacks were
    merely a prelude to the destruction of the sugar
    plant which would, in turn, have disastrous
    knock-on effects on the regional sugar beet
    growers.

25
Marijampole
  • Danish foreign investor Danisco Sugar. controls
    all four national sugar factories, leaving the
    weaker parts of the restructured indigenous sugar
    industry at a severe and possibly terminal
    disadvantage

26
Corporate social responsibility?
  • Danisco company statement
  • It is paramount to Danisco Sugar that the sugar
    beet farmers conditions are now safeguarded in
    the same constructive and open spirit which also
    characterises the relationship with the sugar
    beet farmers Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Danisco
    Sugar will cooperate with the beet farmers on
    creating the basis for a rational,
    future-oriented sugar industry which will be
    competitive also after Lithuanias accession to
    the EU

27
Government response to protests
  • The normal government response from whichever
    party has been in power, has been to quell such
    protests by giving some financial assistance to
    farmers, and by promising to give more in the
    future.
  • Such promises were often reneged upon, stirring
    up new resentment and protests, resulting in yet
    further buy-offs.
  • During ten years of independence, billions of
    litas have been spent quelling simmering
    conflicts.
  • However, with the additional elements of foreign
    investors and EU accession requirements entering
    into the equation, the options available to
    governments have narrowed considerably.

28
Forcible suppression
  • Initially, after negotiations with police at the
    border, the farmers allowed 80 haulers to pass.
  • Later, furious truck drivers, waiting at the
    border in queues which had now grown to ten
    kilometres, broke the blockade and drove through
    the farmers lines.
  • As the blockade was in turn extended by the
    protesters without limit of time, police special
    forces stationed at the border to prevent further
    disturbances, moved in to clear the roads and
    forest tracks.

29
the smell of gunpowder
  • The culmination was violent confrontation and
    sustained clashes, producing shocking scenes
    relayed on Lithuanian television, of police
    truncheon blows being delivered to the heads of
    unarmed protestors.
  • A reflective article on these events noted that,
    we are step by step approaching social
    unrest...although the conflict soon died down,
    there was a smell of gunpowder in the air

30
Analysis of significance of Marijampole
  • This dispute was primarily a defensive action on
    the part of a few hundred local producers and
    workers, attempting to protect the key local
    employment resource in the face of threatened
    restructuring in a region of acutely high
    unemployment (the highest in Lithuania).
  • Whatever surface ripples it created at the time
    have quickly died down. Yet it saw a mobilization
    of communal interests which produced a remarkable
    coalescence of labour and community identities.
  • The Marijampole events, although restricted in
    scale, represent a model of destabilising
    localised insurrection which may be assuming an
    increasingly desperate character and can often be
    only ended by physical force.

31
2. The anti-liberalisation protests
  • Organised workers reactions to extensive
    liberalisation measures designed to remove their
    existing, or residual levels of social protection
  • In 2000, Liberal and New Union centre-right
    government published a resolution spelling out
    its intentions to liberalise the labour market

32
The liberalisation measures
  • Approved typical form of an employment contract
    to be recommended but not compulsory
  • all restrictions in concluding any type of civil
    contracts between natural persons as well as
    between natural and legal persons to be lifted
  • restrictions on temporary employment contracts to
    be gradually phased out
  • statutory requirements for an employer to inform
    the social insurance commission (Sodra) on the
    employment of a person on the same day and
    dismissal from employment within three working
    days to be no longer applicable
  • mandatory working time records no longer to be
    kept

33
The liberalisation measures
  • requirement that employees have employment
    identification documents to be waived
  • compensation for public servants and other
    employees made unemployed as provided by existing
    legislation to be reduced in amount
  • employers no longer required to consult trade
    unions before making workers redundant, where the
    worker is a member of a trade union
  • if there is an interruption to production and the
    employer wishes to temporarily redeploy a worker
    but the employee refuses to accept redeployment,
    the employer obliged to pay only one third of the
    minimum wage rate instead of the full statutory
    minimum rate
  • workers who receive training at employers
    expense to compensate the employer if changing
    employment

34
The protest actions
  • Protests involved small quiet gatherings of
    perhaps a dozen or so smartly dressed men and
    women, standing with placards in dignified order
    outside MPs homes.
  • Protesters placards - Dear Neighbours - We
    elected your neighbour Rolanda Pavilionis but he
    voted in the Seimas for measures that will make
    you a slave without rights.
  • We did not elect you to vote for our enslavement
    - We did not elect you to vote to remove our
    rights and jobs.

35
A symbolic protest indicative of trade union
weakness
  • Despite their participation in national
    tripartite structures, the trade unions were
    insufficiently powerful as social partners to
    resist the imposition of significant legislative
    reforms which undermined their position.
  • Failure to resolve this conflict within
    established corporatist structures of conflict
    resolution. This led to the substitution of
    nonrealistic conflict targets that were in a
    sense secondary MPs homes picketed.
  • Thus, the conflict itself took a largely symbolic
    form, being a political action by trade unions,
    unable to mobilize sufficient parliamentary or
    industrial support to halt what was seen as a
    fundamental attack on working peoples rights.
  • As a conflict, it could be easily contained.

36
3. Police trade union protest
  • Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, and
    the 1991 Law on Trade Unions recognise the right
    of workers and employees to form and join trade
    unions. The Law on Trade Unions extends this
    right to employees of the police and the armed
    forces via statutes regulating their activities.
  • However, the Law on the Regulation of Collective
    Disputes of 1992 does not allow withdrawal of
    labour by employees involved in law enforcement
    and state security
  • It shall be prohibited to call a strike
    within the structures of internal affairs,
    national defence and national security... The
    demands of the employees of such services shall
    be considered by the Government of the Republic
    of Lithuania.
  • Rank and file police complained of low wages, as
    well as lack of funds for basic equipment,
    including replacement uniforms and petrol for
    vehicles.

37
Union of Police Constables and Police Employees
  • Six thousand employees were dismissed from the
    force over a period of years, and it was against
    this background of rising frustration that the
    police officers trade union, the Union of Police
    Constables and Police Employees, was established.
  • Protest action- a lunchtime walk through
    Gedimino Prospect, the main thoroughfare of the
    capital, by around 400 policemen and women in
    full uniform, supported by firebrigade
    colleagues, culminating in the handing over of a
    petition listing their grievances to the Seimas

38
A partial success
  • The trade union now claims to have recruited
    about 1,000 of the capitals 2,500 police and
    some 5,000 out of the 11,000 for the whole of
    Lithuania. If correct, these figures represent
    the highest trade union density of any sector of
    the workforce
  • The public impact of these demonstrations,
    especially of the first, was sufficiently great
    to produce a substantial new budgetary
    allocation. It also brought to a halt the ongoing
    dismissals of police officers and the recognition
    of the police trade union as social partner for
    purposes of collective bargaining.

39
4. The Vilnius Bus workers dispute 1999-2000.
  • An illustration of repressive anti-strike law in
    action.
  • Implications for labour standards and labour
    rights in the new member states
  • The missing acquis a failure of EU competence

40
Law on the Regulation of Collective Disputes
(1992, amended 1994, 1999)
  • Article 1 Strike - a voluntary refusal of the
    employees of one or a few enterprises or their
    groups to temporarily carry out their work if the
    collective dispute is not settled or the decision
    reached by reconciliation committee, Labour
    Arbitration or the Court of Arbitration is not
    carried out.

41
Article 10 Law on the Regulation of Collective
Disputes
  • Where trade union members constitute the majority
    of employees of an enterprise they have the right
    to call a strike in accordance with the rules of
    procedure in the trade unions statutes.
  • The decision to initiate a strike must be reached
    in a secret ballot and endorsed to be by a
    two-thirds majority vote of employees.

42
Article 10, Section 6 'Declaration of Strikes'
  • 21 day notice of intention to strike required in
    railway, city public transport, civil aviation,
    communications, and power engineering enterprises
    (with the exception of electric power
    enterprises), as well as in medical and
    pharmaceutical institutions, food, water,
    sewerage and waste disposal, and oil processing
    enterprises, and in enterprises of uninterrupted
    production...

43
Article 10, Section 6 'Declaration of Strikes'
  • In the previous list of enterprises the right to
    peacefully persuade fellow employees to take part
    (via picketing) is limited.
  • Strikers are required to provide minimum amount
    of conditions (services) necessary to satisfy the
    immediate (vital) needs of society.

44
Article 13 Lawfulness of a Strike
  • In the event that there are particularly
    important reasons, the court shall have the right
    to postpone a strike which has not yet started
    for a period of thirty days, or to stop, for the
    same period, a strike which has already started.

45
The Vilnius Bus Workers Dispute
  • Dispute over delayed payment of wages and
    reduction of overtime work payments (April 1999).
  • Employees balloted as required and employer given
    notice of intention of warning strikes of two
    hours (July 1999).

46
Five days before the first warning strike,
the Vilnius municipal authority ruled that it
required a minimum service of 70 per cent of the
normal transport provision.
47
The Dispute drags on...
  • Strike postponed while negotiations continue
    through summer and autumn of 1999. Basic issues
    remain in dispute.
  • Warning strike again called, to be followed by a
    one-day stoppage (27 January 2002).
  • Vilnius municipal authority threatens to apply to
    the court to have the strike declared unlawful.

48
.and drags on
  • Strike postponed to 15 March 2000.
  • Employee wages again not paid on time and again
    workforce decided to strike 18 May 2000.
  • 17 May Vilnius district court ruling that the
    strike should be postponed for thirty days.
  • 18 May one day work-stoppage supported by 500
    workers.

49
.and drags on
  • 26 May 2000 the Mayor of the Municipality refuses
    to withdraw legal action to have the strike
    declared unlawful
  • Vilnius District Court on 4 July 2000, ruled
    strike of 18 May was unlawful.
  • Trade unions duly appeal decision of lower court.
  • Court of Appeals annuls the lower court ruling
    September 2000.

50
Had the strike been upheld as unlawful...
  • The trade union would have been liable for
    damages to the employer as a result of 'unlawful'
    industrial action.
  • Under Article 13, Section 3 - in cases when the
    employer is not compensated for all losses, the
    strikers as individuals may be subject to
    material liability in accordance with labour
    laws.

51
Complaint to ILO by strikers trade union the
Motor Transport Workers Federation (MTWF)
  • MTWF union lodges formal complaijnt with the ILO,
    alleging violation of core Conventions 87 and 98
    - Freedom of Association and Protection of the
    Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No.87) and
    the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining
    Convention, 1949 (No.98).

52
ILO Committee on Freedom of Association opinion
  • Public transport could not be considered an
    essential service in the strict sense of the
    term, but it was a public service of primary
    importance.
  • Therefore the requirement of provision of a
    minimum service in the event of a strike could be
    justified.

53
ILO Committee on Freedom of Association opinion
  • However ILO Committee on Freedom of Association
    view was that the determination of the level of
    this minimum should be a matter for a careful
    exchange of views involving the representatives
    of the employees as well as the authorities.

54
ILO Committee on Freedom of Association opinion
  • The ILO Committee therefore regrets that the
    70 per cent minimum service established by
    Decision (of the Municipality) was taken without
    any consultation with the social partners
    concerned.

55
ILO Committee on Freedom of Association opinion
  • The Committee finds itself obliged to conclude
    that, in this case, the requirement to ensure 70
    per cent of the services provided cannot be
    considered to be a truly minimum service and that
    the likely result of such an imposition would be
    to render the exercise of the right to strike
    ineffective in practice.

56
ILO Committee on Freedom of Association opinion
on Article 13
  • The ILO Committee noted that Article 13 Law on
    the Regulation of Collective Disputes gave courts
    the right to declare strikes unlawful or postpone
    strikes due to especially important reasons.
  • Despite earlier correspondence with the
    Lithuanian government, the Committee observed a
    lack of clarity in the legislation as to what
    these especially important reasons might be.

57
ILO Committee on Freedom of Association opinion
  • The Committee considers that any systematic use
    of Article 13 in order to postpone legitimate
    strike action would be contrary to the principles
    of freedom of association. Given that the
    unclear drafting of Article 13 could give rise to
    such abuse, the Committee requests the Government
    to consider amending this provision so as to
    ensure that it is not used to restrict the right
    to strike in practice beyond what is permissible
    under accepted principles of freedom of
    association.

58
ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of
Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR)
  • CEACR asked to examine legislative aspects of
    case-
  • CEACR reiterates while the authorities may
    establish a system of minimum service in sectors
    such as public transport, it must be a genuinely
    minimum service, that is one limited to meeting
    the basic needs of the population while
    maintaining the effectiveness of strike
    pressure.

59
ILO expert comments on draft of new Labour Code
(2000)
  • even a requirement for a majority of the workers
    may in some cases excessively hinder the right
    to strike.
  • stringent requirements for conciliation
    procedures in the event of a dispute might result
    in the period of notification becoming a
    deterrent to the exercise of the right to
    strike.

60
ILO expert comments on draft of new Labour Code
  • the restrictions are contrary to the provisions
    of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles
    and Rights at Work 1998.
  • Lithuanian authorities strongly urged to
    revisit the Labour Code in draft form to ensure
    that fundamental rights are not exposed to
    possibility of inappropriate restrictions.

61
New Labour Code (2002) - concessions to ILO
concerns
  • the unilateral determination of essential
    (vital) needs is modified-
  • Article 80, Section 2 allows determination of
    minimum conditions (services) by tripartite
    consultation ie, having regard to the opinion
    of the Tripartite Council or by the executive
    institution of a municipality upon consultation
    with the parties to the collective dispute.

62
New Labour Code (2002) - concessions to ILO
concerns
  • Article 77, Section 2 Notification period of
    intention to strike - reduced from standard
    fourteen days in the draft code, to seven in the
    final adopted version of Labour Code.
  • Article 77, Section 4 Notification period of
    intention to strike inselected industries defined
    as essential - reduced from previous twenty-one
    days to fourteen.

63
New Labour Code - Restriction on strike action
in essential industries and services remains
  • Article 80, Section 2 - minimum conditions
    necessary for meeting the immediate (vital) needs
    of the society must be ensured for industries
    deemed to be essential - list specified in
    Article 77, Section 4-

64
New Labour Code - Extensive list of essential
industries remains unaltered
  • Article 77 Section 4 - railway and public
    transport, civil aviation, communications and
    energy enterprises, health care and
    pharmaceutical institutions, food, water, sewage
    and waste disposal enterprises, oil refineries,
    enterprises with continuous production cycle and
    other enterprises cessation of work in which
    would result in grave and hazardous consequences
    for the community or human life and health.

65
New Labour Code (2002) - Power of judicial
interference remains unaltered
  • Article 81, Section 4 - if a strike will affect
    the provision of minimum conditions (services)
    required for meeting the essential (vital) needs
    of the society and this may endanger human life,
    health and safety a proposed strike may be
    cancelled by the courts for thirty days by the
    court, or suspended for the same period if it is
    already in progress.

66
New Labour Code (2002) - financial penalties
for unlawful industrial action remain (in part)
  • Article 85. Liability - financial penalties
    remain against trade unions and strike
    committees, for industrial action deemed
    unlawful.
  • individual strikers will no longer directly incur
    material liability.

67
New Labour Code (2002) - High voting threshold
for lawful strike action remains unaltered
  • Article 77. Declaration of a Strike - The
    required two thirds majority of enterprise
    employees voting in favour of strike action
    remains.

68
New Labour Code (2002) - restrictions on right to
strike at sectoral or wider level
  • To call a strike at higher than enterprise level,
    the trade unions must first, exercise all the
    procedural requirements, including possible
    binding arbitration, regarding strikes at the
    level of the enterprise.
  • Should a single employer fulfil the requirements
    of a collective bargaining agreement the strike
    could be prohibited.

69
European Commission Regular Report on Lithuanias
Progress towards Accession (2002)
  • there are concerns that legislation on union
    rights is not duly enforced in all cases
  • European Commission, Regular Report on
    Lithuanias Progress towards Accession, COM
    (2002) 700 final, p.29.

70
Summary
  • New Labour Code reiterates most of the
    restrictive provisions of the the Law on the
    Regulation of Collective Disputes which it
    replaces.
  • The concerns of ILO, apart from minor
    modifications, as well European Court
    determinations and the as spirit of EU Charter of
    Fundamental Rights not acknowledged in the new
    Labour Code.

71
Wider Implications
  • It is unlikely that the new Labour Code will
    provide opportunities for the articulation of
    collective employee demands, without significant
    improvements in the effective legal right to
    strike
  • Restrictions on strike action, and on labour
    rights in general, apart from attracting
    international attention, may pose a threat to
    longer term social cohesion by undermining
    opportunities to develop social dialogue in new
    post-accession Lithuania.

72
Level of Politicisation
High
Medium
Low
Low Medium High
Level of Intensity
73
Labour Law of Latvia, August 2004
  • Section 22. Approval of a Collective Agreement
  • (1) In order for a collective agreement entered
    into by an undertaking to be valid, its approval
    at a general meeting (conference) of employees is
    required.
  • (2) The collective agreement shall be approved by
    a simple majority vote at a general meeting at
    which at least half the employees of the relevant
    undertaking participate.
  • (3) If it is impossible to convene a general
    meeting of employees due to the large number of
    employees employed by an undertaking or due to
    the nature of work organisation, the collective
    agreement shall be approved by a simple majority
    vote at a conference of employee representatives
    at which at least half of the employee
    representatives participate.

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Conciliation mechanism
  • Section 25. Settlement of Disputes in a
    Conciliation Commission
  • (1) Disputes regarding rights and interests which
    arise from the collective agreement relations or
    which are related to such agreement shall be
    settled by a conciliation commission. A
    conciliation commission shall be established by
    the parties to a collective agreement, both
    authorising an equal number of their
    representatives.
  • (2) In case of a dispute, the parties to the
    collective agreement shall draw up a report
    regarding the differences of opinion and not
    later than within a three-day period submit it to
    the conciliation commission. The conciliation
    commission shall examine the report within a
    seven-day period.
  • (3) The conciliation commission shall take a
    decision by agreement. The decision shall be
    binding on both parties to the collective
    agreement and it shall have the validity of a
    collective agreement.

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Strike Law of Latvia 2002
  • Chapter III Declaration of Strike
  • Section 11.
  • (1) A trade union shall take a decision regarding
    the declaration of a strike at a general meeting
    of the members thereof convened in accordance
    with the procedures prescribed by the articles of
    association of the relevant trade union and in
    which at least three quarters of the members of
    such trade union participate. A decision shall be
    taken if the three quarters of the members of the
    relevant trade union who are present have voted
    in favour for it. The process and the results of
    the voting shall be recorded.

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  • (2) If it is impossible to convene a general
    meeting of the relevant trade union due to the
    large number of the members or due to the
    specific nature of the work organisation, the
    decision regarding the declaration of a strike
    shall be taken at a meeting of authorised
    representatives of members of the trade union
    convened in accordance with the procedures
    prescribed by the articles of association of the
    relevant trade union and in which at least three
    quarters of the authorised representatives of
    members of such trade union participate. A
    decision shall be taken if three quarters of the
    authorised representatives of the members of the
    relevant trade union who are present have voted
    in favour of it. The process and the results of
    the voting shall be recorded.

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The three-quarters rule
  • (3) If a trade union or authorised
    representatives of the members of a trade union
    referred to in Paragraph two of this Section
    (hereinafter authorised representatives of the
    members of a trade union) take a decision
    regarding the declaration of a strike on behalf
    of all employees of the relevant undertaking
    (including those employees who are not members of
    the relevant trade union), the trade union or the
    authorised representatives of the members of the
    trade union must ensure that the decisions
    referred to in Paragraphs one and two of this
    Section are endorsed by three quarters of the
    number of employees of the relevant undertaking
    such support shall be endorsed by the relevant
    minutes.

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Latvia Trade Union Rights Violations
(International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
Annual Report 2004)
  • A union must have at least 50 members, which is
    too high by ILO standards.
  • The state police are still banned from
    organising, and numerous requests to remove this
    ban have been ignored.
  • Strike limitations - the right to strike is
    recognised, but the limitations contained in the
    1998 law on strikes remain in place. A high
    quorum is required to vote on a strike,
    pre-strike procedures are too long, solidarity
    strikes are prohibited and strikes must not be
    called to protest at the government's economic
    and social policies.

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  • Collective bargaining. The law on collective
    bargaining does not set any time limit on
    negotiations, thus allowing employers to drag
    them out indefinitely.
  • The government does not promote the formation of
    strong and independent trade unions as the basis
    for stable social partnership and social
    dialogue. Opposition to the formation of trade
    unions is strongest in the private sector, and in
    some enterprises trade unions are banned.
  • Collective bargaining and information and
    consultation rights are not respected in
    practice. For example, in Jurmala SIA the
    management of the enterprise Jurmalas
    Namsaimnieks consistently avoided conclusion of a
    collective agreement.

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By way of conclusion (Kohl and Platzer, 2003)
  • with poorly developed social dialogue and
    inadequate structures for effective labour
    relations at vital levels, dangers can tend to
    snowball through growing poverty, exclusion and
    political radicalisation.
  • Social processes running out of control in an
    inadequate civil society then inevitably generate
    repercussions in the form of Euroscepticism, the
    rejection of European unification or a general
    aversion to politics.
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