2 – Repeated violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Latvia

The ITUC affiliate in Latvia is the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia (LBAS).

In practice

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Latvia approves a new law limiting freedom of speech21-04-2016

On 21 April 2016, a new bill was approved at its second reading. It consists of several amendments to provisions on crimes against the state. Latvian MPs considered these revisions urgent enough to have opted for a fast-track legislative procedure of two readings instead of three.
The bill punishes individuals who are considered to be acting against Latvian independence, sovereignty, territorial unity, or who call for the overthrow of state power and is very likely to jeopardise freedom of speech. Nevertheless, security experts considered it a necessary measure in the “information war” with Russia. In fact, the fear of those politicians and experts that prepared the bill is that through the use of conventional and social media, as well as events such as youth camps, propagandists could fuel ethnic tensions and separatist movements in Latvia, as has happened in eastern Ukraine. In this regard, Latvian MPs considered these revisions urgent enough to have opted for a fast-track legislative procedure of two readings instead of three. Small protests have taken place against the proposed bill after the act passed the first reading on 3 March. Human rights lawyer Elizabete Krivcova stated: “Because of the pressure from the civil society and press, the authors agreed to change the proposal. However, they refuse any broad discussion on it.”

Violation of collective agreement30-04-2012

In April 2012, the Latvian Post and Telecommunications Workers’ Trade Union (LSAB) elected a representative to the board of the private pension fund as agreed in paragraph 109 of the collective agreement between LSAB and Lattelcom. However, during the meeting of JSC “First Closed Pension Fund” stakeholders on 24 May 2012, Lattelecom nominated two employer representatives. The LSAB representative was thus excluded from further board participation.

Intimidation of trade union members by the employer14-03-2014

Aero navigational service provider SJSC “Latvian Air Traffic” - invited air traffic controllers in small groups to the management office and asked each of them about his or her membership in the trade union, and whether he or she agrees with the complaint previously addressed and sent to the Minister for Transport signed by the trade union chairperson Mrs. Ausra Straume.

In March 2012, Ausra Straume was suspended from her air traffic controller duties and was prohibited from entering and residing at the premises of SJSC “Latvian Air Traffic”. Disciplinary investigations against her did not reveal any infringements of labour discipline. She was suspended for three months and was restricted in carrying out her functions as chairperson of the Latvian Air Traffic Controller’s Trade Union as she had limited access to the union premises. On 13 March 2012 the employer issued an order prohibiting A. Straume from entering the company premises without special permission from the employer.

She filed a complaint to demand reinstatement. On 14 March 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that Ausra Straume did not have the right to complain about working conditions. The unions have now taken this issue to the President as the right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
has clearly been overlooked by the court.

Anti-union discrimination and violation of a collective agreement30-09-2012

Port managers in Liepāja dismissed 10 members of the Liepāja Port Staff Professional Organisation accusing them of theft after failed attempts to breach the union’s collective agreement by trying to force them to accept different wage levels. However, under Latvian labour law, a trade union member cannot be dismissed without prior approval from the union. By September 2012, the court had rejected seven applications from the employer to dismiss the workers and deemed one suspension illegal.

Collective bargaining hampered31-12-2010

The law “On the Remuneration of State and Local Government Institutions Officials and Employees” has created problems for collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
agents in the public sector, since it outlaws all monetary benefits under collective agreements unless they are directly provided by law. Some public employers also refuse to bargain collectively.

Harsh economic climate results in non-reporting of anti-union activities31-12-2010

Unofficially, there have been many reported cases on employers spreading anti-union propaganda and cases of dismissal and demotion or relocation of activists who plan to establish a trade union in an enterprise or of existing trade union representatives in order to break trade union activity. However, these cases have no official evidence and the dismissal or relocation of workers is always supported by contrasting evidence demonstrating the guilt of the employees. In the current economic climate with high unemployment, employees often opt to be silent in order not to lose their jobs. These cases are mostly reported in the trade union branches in the wood manufacturing, civil aviation and industry sectors.

Multinationals shun collective agreements30-11-2009

According to estimations by the Latvian Trade Union Confederation (LBAS), there are fewer collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
agreements in multinationals than in other companies in the private sector. Foreign companies in general and multinationals in particular are reluctant to apply collective agreements to their Latvian branches. Commerce, banking and personal services are the most difficult sectors. On the other hand, LBAS reports that if a multinational does conclude an agreement, compliance is better than in other companies.

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