UN Labor agency: Trade union influence down in Latvia

After the 2008-2011 crisis, Latvia has joined the small group of nations that saw the sharpest decrease in the share of employees protected by collective bargaining, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), reported a story on LSM's Russian-language service Tuesday.

According to ILO data published recently, the sharpest drop in the share of employees covered by trade unions via collective bargaining deals was seen in countries hardest hit by the crisis, such as Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal and Romania. In this group the decrease made up about 21%, while the global index stands at 4.6%.

ILO also adds that in countries in which coverage declined, this was mainly due to the cessation of national general agreements, a roll-back in policy support for multi-employer bargaining and policy induced decentralization (e.g. legislative changes that: prioritized company over multi-employer agreements; introduced the possibility for companies in trouble to opt out of sectoral agreements; and allowed for the recognition of non-union bargaining representatives at the enterprise).

In Latvia the share of employees covered by collective bargaining deals fell even more than the average of the hardest-hit group. The number fell from 21.5% in 2007 to 15% in 2013. In Lithuania the number fell from 10.2% to 9.7%, while in Estonia the numbers were 25% and 23% respectively.

Latvia also saw a fall of trade union density rates. In 2007 16.6% of employees were in trade unions, while in 2013 the number was only 12.7%. The numbers were 9.3% and 8.8% in Lithuania and 7.8 and 6.2 in Estonia. 

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