What do Lithuanian workers expect from the new government?

The Council of the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation informed the appointed Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė of expectations for the new government and invited her to discuss these proposals further.

In the official letter, the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation stressed that Lithuania suffers from a high percentage of in-work poverty. Families with children are particularly negatively affected. Despite that, the current minimum monthly wage is lower than the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. The Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation highlights the need to raise the minimum monthly wage up to 663 EUR by 1 January 2021, following the formula set by the Tripartite Council.

Trade unions noted that the unemployment rate rises, despite generous funding directed to stimulate the economy. The Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation invites to invest more in human capital, active labour market policies, re-skilling, and upskilling. Additionally, the LPSK calls for a revision of quotas for workers from third countries. 32.200 workers from the third countries may be employed on concessionary terms in 2021 even if in Lithuania more than 200.000 persons are registered as unemployed.

The LPSK repeats its urging to introduce progressive taxes for all income and tackle tax inequalities. Trade unions invite to change the approach from taxing individuals to taxing households. This shift would allow reducing the poverty of working families. Also, it is important to be cautious regarding the discussed new regressive taxes and their potential negative impact on low-income households.

Unemployment benefits remain insufficient and are among the lowest in the European Union. The Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation insists that there is a need to revise the application criteria for an unemployment benefit because the current ones are already inadequate.

Furthermore, trade unions are concerned about the rapid growth of non-standard forms of employment. Different sectors are not immune to that: for example, during the pandemic, a part of employers of the aviation sector pressured aircraft crews to be employed on a temporary individual contract basis despite before they had traditional open-ended contracts. Having that in mind, the LPSK stresses that Lithuania needs 1) an adequate regulatory framework to protect e.platform workers, 2) it is important to recognize people, working on basis of non-standard work contracts, as workers.

Additionally, the LPSK invited not to discuss the privatization of education, healthcare, other public services, and state-owned enterprises.

Inga Ruginiene, the president of the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation, stated:

“We send a reminder to the new government that employees are an equally important pillar of our economy as businesses. In our view, it is harmful to orientate discussions and solutions only towards business. Without workers and stable quality jobs, we will not be able to reach welfare“.

The LPSK Council hopes for constructive cooperation with the new government.

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