Regarding the General Data Protection Regulation: Situation in Lithuania

The Lithuanian regarding the GDPR is rather ambiguous and depends on the sector.

Some trade unions perceive it as problematic and harmful but others do not consider the GDPR as a big problem for trade union activities.

For example, the members of the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LPSK) acting in the education sector state that they receive needed data easily. Of course, there are some objections and GDPR-related excuses made when they request information but, at least till now, they persuaded education institutions to give the needed data. Often they point out that, if needed, trade union representatives may sign a confidentiality commitment (but it is very rare that they really have to compose one).

On another hand, in other sectors (for example, in the food industry) trade unions see the GDPR as a harmful hindrance. The GDPR is constantly used as an excuse not to give information to trade unions. Especially, in the context of salaries.

The chairman of the Trade Union of Lithuanian Food Producers stated that „our hands are tied when we want to examine if a certain worker is not discriminated in this sense“. Many employers demand to reveal who is complaining at first, i. e. before giving the information, but trade unions see that as a risk for negative repercussions for that employee. Then the information is not revealed and, of course, employers state that everything is fine in their company and nobody is discriminated against. Even if trade unions know that there is a real problem, they cannot verify that without data and „you cannot initiate a dispute procedure based only on your suspicions“. Many workers know this and they are afraid to fight for their rights and stay silent even if they strongly suspect that they suffer financially. There is a possibility to complain to a labour dispute commission and then an employer has to reveal salary-related information but it is much more complicated and demands more resources and time. (According to the chairman of the Trade Union of Lithuanian Food Producers,   in his experience, there was only one case when this path was chosen: in a company of the budgetary sector bonuses (i. e. public money) were paid out and there was a suspicion that one employee was discriminated. Still, the company refused to reveal the requested information by the trade union. The reason for declining – „that is personal data“. In this case, the trade union appealed to the Labour dispute commission and eventually, the company was forced to reveal the requested information.)

Secondly, due to the GDPR, it is becoming increasingly difficult to agree on the specifics of payment systems. Problems arise when employers refuse to provide information about the salaries of some categories of employees. Their excuse is that trade unions may decipher who receives how much.

The third aspect is the membership fee of trade union members. Currently, trade unions receive the summed amount of all paid fees and cannot demand to get a list of who has really paid (due to the GDPR). That means that 1) a trade union cannot examine if everything was done correctly; 2) it is hard to know the real situation because the member may inform the employer that he/she will not be paying the fee anymore but not his/ her trade union. If that happens (according to the Statue), after some time this kind of person will not be considered a trade union member but when the organization does not know clearly who is not paying the fee, there is a risk that some people may abuse the system and demand the help of a trade union, even if its help no longer belongs to them. There were a few cases like that.


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