First attempts to “reanimate” grass-root municipality social dialogue in Lithuania

Implementation of 2-year project "Grass-root municipality social dialogue" has started by meeting of project stakeholders in Ignalina municipality in mid-February 2013. Similar meeting took place in Ukmergė last week. The invitation of local authorities to (re)start social dialogue practices was met with enthusiasm of local interest groups - employers, trade union activists and public sector workers. During the meeting in Ignalina Mayor Bronis Ropė explained his position on health system reform, which is currently being conducted by Minister of Health in Lithuania. The reform is not supported by Lithuanian media and people in Ignalina lack basic information about the plans of ministry. As warm supporter of the reform Bronis Ropė has used the opportunity of the gathering to explain in details why it is important to implement the reform and what social benefits of the reform are. Among the other topics of the meeting in Ignalina was a discussion on possible improvement of sport club for workers of Ignalina public sector institutions. The decisions will be made during future meetings of the group.

The meeting of project group in Ukmergė was focused on situation in big private factory producing boilers (Vienybė). New owners of the company have worsened the work conditions for the factory staff, although the company sales and profits are good. Main problem are lunch breaks. During the meeting Ukmergė municipality has promised to invite company owners to discuss the situation next month in the format of three-partide collaboration council. During the meeting in Ukmergė the new idea of local regulation was discussed – member of local council Elena Mirinavičienė has expressed her concerns about possibility of public sector workers to visit heath institution during work time for illness prevention reasons. If you are sick – it is possible for you no to go to work, but if you are healthy but you want to check your health – your boss will be not happy. I think we can change this situation by providing new regulation on work-time in all Ukmergė municipality-owned institutions.

International conference on Social dialogue situation in Lithuania will be hold in Lithuanian parliament next week. Speakers from different project stakeholder - state institutions regulating labor market, business associations, and trade unions together with prominent economists will debate on social conflict and social dialogue. Part of conference will be moderated by Norwegian trade union experts, who will present background of Norwegian welfare state model with particular stress on social dialogue practices in Norwegian municipalities. During second day of the conference there will be practical training of Norwegian experience in local social dialogue for 30-40 Lithuanian conference participants. Those will be mainly representatives of trade unions from several Lithuanian municipalities - workers of local administration, education, police, and medicine workers.

As project leader Tomas Tomilinas said, my main expectation for the conference is clear message from Norway to Lithuania - social dialogue is not only about dialogue, it is also about social conflict. When social conflict and interests are blurred and mistreated - there is no potential for social change. On the other hand Lithuania is also bad in social dialogue method development - we have totally bureaucratized our social interactions, especially on local level. Lithuanian municipalities work as agencies of implementation of numerous central state regulations and paper instructions. There is no tradition of solving local problems locally and there is huge lack of skills when we speak about defining common values and common goals. We really need to learn best practices from Norway on how people from different social interest group get together and achieve results. We hope that Norwegians will demonstrate us the most outstanding results of their local social dialogue - for example we really need brilliant ideas for local public sector about creation of jobs and assistance for local business, improvement of work environment of public sector workers.

More on conference in this link.
More on the project in this link.

Project " Grass-root municipality social dialogue " information


First picture from side - project team meeting in Ukmergė municipality (on the left - Elena Mirinavičienė) 
Second - project team meeting in Ukmergė municipality
Thirdly - project team meeting in Ignalina municipality (in center - Mayor Bronis Ropė)
Fourthly - project team meeting in Ignalina municipality
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