ELECTIONS. Karbauskis speaks on the new Labour Code

Ramūnas Karbauskis end Eglė Samoškaitė
DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union (LVŽS) leader Ramūnas Karbauskis is convinced that the new Labour Code that the current Seimas passed recently is in dire need of amending, while employers should consider what sort of wages are needed to ensure that employees do not emigrate from Lithuania.

Currently the LVŽS is second after the first round of Seimas elections; during a DELFI conference its leader Karbauskis shared his thoughts on the new Labour Code, its uses and what needs to be done to reduce emigration. He mused that it would perhaps not be necessary to worry about the Labour Code, if the incumbent Seimas had included amendments suggested by the President. The politician believes it should not have passed in the shape it is in currently.

“I believe that at the beginning of the new term, we should first of all reconvene a tripartite council to discuss all the amendments that need to be made [on the Labour Code]. We cannot image decisions being made regarding the Labour Code without the unions and employers, solely by politicians, particularly with all the problems caused by the politicians.

Everything should simply be done the way it should be, procedurally correctly. The tripartite council agrees on a project, it is then approved in Seimas. There was no need to do what the Social Democrats did – making essential changes to the project already agreed on in the tripartite council,” commented Karbauskis, once again stressing his party’s support for the amendments proposed by the President.

The politician expressed hope that the new cabinet will be more receptive to the voices of unions and employees because in reality they are the weaker party in work relationships, something that is no longer codified in the new Labour Code.

“The new code is oriented toward bringing in cheap labour from abroad and encouraging emigration even further. We have to ensure that no-one departs and instead people begin returning. The Labour Code has to be oriented toward the employees, not the employers,” spoke the leader of the LVŽS.

He notes that with the current iteration of the new Labour Code coming into force, the Lithuanian population will continue decreasing, leading to fewer available employees, which would negatively impact businesses.

“As far as I understand, only businesses which already plan to bring in Ukrainians, Kazakhs, perhaps even Chinese are interested in this Labour Code. Such a code is suitable and just. The rest of Lithuania is less interested in it and there are only a few such companies. It is unfortunate that politicians opted to pass it, for whatever reason. But this is why the incumbent coalition lost the elections,” mused Karbauskis.

The politician is convinced that the lack of qualified labour is a result of inadequate wages.
“What are we doing? Are we seeking to keep the people in Lithuania or do we believe that we have to ease conditions to bring labour (qualified at that) from abroad? Perhaps Ukrainians earning 350, 400 or 500 euro will say they are earning well. But you won’t keep a qualified Lithuanian with such sums.

My answer to employers: cease making Lithuania into China. Some employers aim to do business in Lithuania while paying wages which wouldn’t allow a business to exist elsewhere in Europe,” stated the leader of the LVŽS, adding that “If we believe that Lithuanians should live here, something I believe to be the case, then we have to understand that we are in the centre of Europe and with current wages we won’t keep them here.”

Karbauskis points to employer’s mentality in Lithuania as a major issue. Talks of difficulty in firing or employing based on the current code, they are trying to evade responsibility. This should not be the case. Supposedly it is not viable to pass regulations where all the costs of firing an employee are covered by the state. It should not be that employers can casually fire and accept employees with no responsibility, this is not the case in any European state.

“I heard the PM say that competitiveness makes people happier. I think that is the reason why he is now sad about the election results. It is not competitiveness that makes people happy, but security; when they are safe at work and in life, when they can think about an assured future,” commented Karbauskis.

According to the politician, the old Labour Code was not bad toward employers, simply some found that they had an opportunity to influence politicians, increasingly liberalise labour relations and thus ease their own situations.

R. Karbauskis pledges to return to work with the Labour Code following the elections. But his party will be unable to do so, if a coalition between the Social Democrats and Conservatives forms. And this would apparently happen if voters vote passively in the second round and do not vote for the LVŽS.

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