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Building Effective Unions in the new Member States: A report on the situation in the construction industry in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Baltic-Nordic Trade Union Conference 10-11 November 2005, Tallinn. Charles Woolfson – Brief Profile.

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Baltic-Nordic Trade Union Conference 10-11 November 2005, Tallinn


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    1. Building Effective Unions in the new Member States:A report on the situation in the construction industry in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Baltic-Nordic Trade Union Conference 10-11 November 2005, Tallinn

    2. Charles Woolfson – Brief Profile • Marie Curie chair holder in the Baltic states (2004-2007) • Resident in the Baltic states for five years • Professor of Labour Studies, School of Law, University of Glasgow, UK • Member of British Committee of the International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR) and editorial board member of journal Union Rights • Projects for ILO, UK trade unions Published books and articles on union issues; organising oil workers in the UK offshore industry, strikes, on health and safety and on labour conditions in the new member states of the EU.

    3. Study of Baltic construction unions for Nordic Federation of Building and Woodworking Unions • An assessment of the situation and the unions of each country. • Is there a form of “social dialogue” existing with the employer side? • Could elements in the “Nordic model” with an emphasis on collective agreements be “exported” to these countries? • The strategies and behaviour of the Swedish and Nordic employers in the region. • How are the vocational schools working? Can we use them to change the mentality of the youth towards what Trade Unions are really about? • As Nordic unions, how to use on-going projects in these countries to get the best possible results?

    4. Some Indicators of Social Development in the Baltic States • Life expectancy • Death by suicide • Death in transport accidents • Total expenditure on social protection • GDP per capita • Employees with earnings two-thirds below the median • Levels of Deprivation and inequality • Class structuring of health inequalities

    5. Male Life expectancy at birth (2002) (approx 10 years less than EU averages) EU 15 75.8 (e) Estonia 65.3 Latvia 64.8 Lithuania 66.3

    6. Recent demographic developments in Europe 2004. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing 2005

    7. Death by suicide (standardised death rate per 100 000 persons)(2000) (3X to 5x higher) EU 15 16.0 Estonia 46.0 Latvia 56.9 Lithuania 80.8 (30 per week, popl. 3.5m) (Source: EuroStat)

    8. Death in transport accidents (standardised death rate per 100 000 persons) (2000) (2x or 3x higher) EU 15 15.7 Estonia 28.8 Latvia 48.0 Lithuania 35.5

    9. Average life expectancy at age 25 by educational level in Estonia 1989-2000Source: Leinsalu M, Vågerö D, Kunst AE. Estonia 1989-2000: enormous increase in mortality differences by education. Int J Epidemiol 2003;32:1081-1087

    10. Total expenditure on social protection per head of population (2001) (approx ¼ of EU levels) EU 15 6425.9 (e) Estonia 1308.1 (p) Latvia 1138.6 (p) Lithuania1318.2 (p)

    11. GDP per capita in PPS (2004) (about ½ of EU levels) EU 25 100 Estonia 52.0 (f) Latvia 45.6 (f) Lithuania 49.8 (f)

    12. Gini Index of Income Inequality in CEE (excl. Baltic States)

    13. Gini Index of Income inequality including Baltic States

    14. Lithuanian labour market • 1997 to 1999 in Vilnius, nearly one quarter of job positions disappeared in the largest five factories. • In Kaunas, the number of jobs in large enterprises decreased by about 40 per cent. • Growth in income differentials. One third of families with three or more children, representing 16 per cent of population, below the official poverty line of 50 per cent of the average wage. • ‘informal’ economy of some 300,000 workers, or more than 20 per cent of the total working population.

    15. Working Environment Indicators in the Baltic States

    16. Index of Fatal Accidents at Work (per 100,000 employees) Old MemberStates Source: New Cronos

    17. Index of Fatal Accidents at Work (per 100,000 employees) New Member CEE States Source: New Cronos

    18. Index of Fatal Accidents at Work (per 100,000 employees) New MemberStates Source: New Cronos

    19. Survey of Working Conditions (2002)European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions • Workers in the then Accession States more exposed to vibrations, noise, heat, air pollution, and, to a lesser degree, to working in painful or tiring positions, than in the EU • Working hours are considerably longer than in the EU • ‘Atypical’ forms of work such as night work or shift work are more widespread. • Information/consultation less well developed in the acceding and candidate countries than in the EU, especially regarding organisational changes • 40% report in ACC that their work negatively affects their health or safety (compared to 27% in existing EU states)

    20. Trade Unionism in the Baltic New Member States

    21. The Construction Industry in the Baltic States

    22. Key findings: Estonia • Employment: greater percentage of workers in smaller enterprises of under 50 employees (59.8% as against 49.8%). • Construction as proportion of workforce: approx 7% • Unionisation: low 3% (no construction union) • Collective agreements: low (one local agreement) • Social dialogue: low (tripartite and bipartite) • Workplace unions: low (non-existent except for building materials manufacture) • Management hostile attitudes: high • Union capacity: low

    23. Key findings: Latvia • Employment: 90% employed in companies with less than 250 workers • Construction as proportion of workforce: approx 6% • Unionisation: low 5% (LCA current claim 2,000 of total employed in the construction industry) • Collective agreements: low (mainly larger coys) • Social dialogue: limited but some at tripartite and bipartite levels • Workplace unions: low • Management hostile attitudes: high (NNC Swedish, Dalte Holding, UIT) • Union capacity: low to medium

    24. Key findings: Lithuania • Employment: 60% of Lithuania enterprises in construction have less than 10 employees, and these are responsible for 8% of registered employment • Construction as proportion of workforce: approx 6% • Unionisation : low 4% • Collective agreements: low (mainly in materials) • Social dialogue: low (tripartite and bipartite) • Workplace unions: low • Management hostile attitudes: high • Union capacity: low

    25. Key findings: Poland • Employment: micro enterprises with fewer than 10 workers account for the great majority (96%) of enterprises • Construction as proportion of workforce: approx 6.5% of the total employed population • Unionisation: low (7.9% overall/ 3.6% in construction) • Collective agreements: low • Social dialogue: low • Workplace unions: low • Management hostile attitudes: high • Union capacity: low to medium

    26. Absence of effective ‘social dialogue’ and collective bargaining • Consultation between the State and the social partners, within tripartite structures has helped to maintain a degree of social consensus concerning the ‘reforms’ carried out during the years of transition. • However, this tripartite dialogue has not led to large-scale workplace participation of the social partners – mainly a top-down process. • Consequently, absence of ‘autonomous social dialogue’ (and collective bargaining) - a weakness reflected at enterprise and sector levels (especially in the SMEs).

    27. Summary of findings • Insecure and exploited workforces • violation of trade union rights and hostile anti-labour legislation • Low levels of unionisation and fragmentation • Privatisation, bankruptcies, restructuring • Emergence of small enterprises • growth of unemployment – new labour discipline of fear • increase in the category of ‘self-employed’ • ‘grey’ and black economy without protection • poorer levels of safety and health at work • imbalance in power between employers and employees at the workplace

    28. Recommendations 1-4 • Need for greater trade union unity and solidarity at national level in nearly all confederations in the Baltic region. • Need to concentrate trade union renewal efforts at branch level and in organizing in new companies, • Increase capacities of national organisations. Clear targets and sustainable outputs should be established in any international future assistance programmes. • Unions in new member states should be equipped to promote the advantages they can offer to members -- legal services, training, participation opportunities at work, health and safety. • Full-time Nordic sectoral liaison officers to be based in the region.