bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Tuesday 30.05.2017 | Name days: Lolita, Vitolds
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuanian PM sees Moscow’s hand behind teacher strikes, then apologises

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius

Linas Jegelevicius for the BNN

First, Lithuanian PM Algirdas Butkevičius insists that a plot to oust him is ready and then he shocks all by claiming that Moscow’s hand orchestrates Lithuanian teacher strikes engulfing around 7,000-8,000 educators from 220-240 schools in the country.

A proof in Russian newspaper?

After initially pointing out vaguely to a certificate on Russia’s involvement in the strikes from «special services», Algirdas Butkevičius later referenced to an article in the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaja Pravda.

«Pick up Komsomolskaja Pravda and read it, you will see what it says (about the strikes),» the prime minister told Tuesday.

It remains unclear what article Lithuanian premier had in mind, but by late Wednesday several Russian outlets, including «Komsomolskaja Pravda», have picked up Butkevicius’ words, poking fun at him for blaming Russia for the strikes.

Not teachers but others have ties with Moscow

On Wednesday morning, Butkevicius backed away from the accusation and apologised to teachers clamouring for higher wage and better working conditions.

«Some of the country’s professional trade unions do keep in touch with Moscow, however,» Butkevičius insisted. «When speaking in Seimas on Tuesday (about the teacher strikes), I just wanted to warn the leaders of teachers’ trade unions about Russia’s possible clout on them. If some misunderstood me that I have accused all Lithuanian teachers and educators, I can assure one that it was not what I meant to say. I do respect and will always respect our teachers. Therefore, today, standing in front of TV cameras, I am apologising to all, but my duty is to warn the trade unions which organise the strikes that certain people, capable of wreaking havoc, can join them,» Butkevičius warned.

He added in the emotional speech that he«perhaps» will not«commit a crime» informing that «some» Lithuanian trade unions do cooperate with Russia’s Federation of Independent Trade Unions.

«It is the most influential pro-Putin organization, which can be considered as a mechanism of soft power of the Russian Federation, which is carrying out informational and ideological politics detrimental to Lithuania,» Butkevičius said.

Teachers want more money

The strikes commenced last Monday and they encompass around 240 pre-school, primary and secondary education establishments all over the country. Around 7000-8000 teachers are believed to be engulfed in the strikes. There are about 55000 teachers in Lithuania.

The teacher unions urge the Government to allot additionally 18 million euro for teachers’ wages from September 1.

Teachers had made Lithuanian Government raise the average salary nearly 20 percent before the economic downturn during 2008 and 2010. Besides, the-then Government had agreed to raise teachers’ salaries for a period of five successive years, but with crisis in a full swing, the hard-fought teachers’ wins were annulled.

After Butkevičius’ statement on Moscow’s clout, heads of Lithuania’s chief teacher trade unions claimed to BNN they were «astounded» by it.

«I see it as a very irresponsible and emotional outburst, which has nothing to do with the reality. Prime Minister has apologised teachers today (Wednesday), which we welcome. He explained us in the meeting today that he was misled by a certificate from special services, which, he now insists, mentions other unions, but not those of teachers,» Andrius Navickas, the chairman of Lithuania’s Education Workers Profession Union, told BNN.

Teachers’ demands have nothing to do with politics?

Navickas said he assured the head of Government that Lithuanian teachers are aware of who is who and no one can doubt Lithuanian teachers’ credibility and loyalty to the state of Lithuania.

«Our demands are of economic nature. We do not have any political demands whatsoever,” Navickas emphasized. «Premier has assured us that he will go back to the ruling Coalition’s Political Council and discuss our demands there.»

The strikes, however, will go on until an accord is struck with the Government, the trade unionist underlined.

Trade unionist calls PM a «flip-flopper»

Asked what he makes out from Butkevičius’ words, Egidijus Milešinas, the deputy chairman of Lithuania’s Education Professional Union, told BNN the Lithuanian premier appeared to be «a flip-flopper» in the situation.

«First he says it and then he changes his opinion. It is just not solid for a man in his capacity. It is not the first time that he flip-flops. He might have been misled by some people in his environment. I doubt whether knows it exactly. Ifeel at a loss for words, to tell the truth,» Milešinas admitted to BNN.

He says, however, here is a glint of hope that the Government and Butkevičius will stop turning deaf ear to the teachers’ demands.

«As a matter of fact, Butkevičius was the one who eased the tensions in the Wednesday meeting between Government officials and the trade unions’ representatives. He was late for the meeting, but after walking in, he apologised to all the teachers (for the accusation). After that the trade unions lowered their demands on the wage increase, asking the Government to find 13 million euros instead of 18 million euros for the purpose,» Milešinas told.

As the Ministry of Education and Science has committed to finding 5 million euros for the wage hike, the Government needs to come up with the rest.

«I don’t think that the 8 million euros that Government needs to find in its coffers is a lot,» the deputy chairman reasoned.

An accord might be around the corner?

According to Milešinas, PM Butkevičius pledged to find the money until the third round of the negotiations between Government and trade unions that is scheduled for next Monday.

«After the apology and the toned down rhetoric many teachers now believe that accord might be just around the corner,» Milešinas told.

Government negotiators have failed, however, to convince teachers’ unions to call off a strike on Wednesday as talks about higher pay continues. The teacher’s average pay before taxes is around 835 euro in Lithuania.

Is Lithuanian PM good at damage control?

Linas Kojala, an analyst at the Eastern Europe Studies Centre in Vilnius, believes that PM Butkevičius can hardly come out as winner in the situation after the horrible accusation against Lithuanian teachers.

«The only thing that he can do in the damage control is to keep apologising and repenting for the words. By having withdrawn from his words on Russia’s implication in the strikes, he is reaffirming his image of a sincere, open and mistaken-prone person. Most people like that and, therefore, Butkevičius can even bolster the image,» Kojala told BNN. «But on the other hand, the blunder by Butkevičius is huge and he might not get away with it.»

The analyst notes that it was not the first time when the state’s highest officials, making allegations, were referencing to a certificate from special services being unsure of the existence of such document.

Trade unions are very weak in Lithuania

«First the premier says he was briefed on it, then the spokeswoman of Parliament (Loreta Graužinienė-L.J) steps in denying existence of such certificate. Manipulating with the notion of special services and their supposed certificates is a very bad practice in the country,» Kojala emphasized.

If Government satisfies the teachers’ demands, it will encourage other professional groups to come forward with their demands for authorities.

«I will not be surprised if workers of culture or those in law enforcement structures, who are long complaining of the lack of attention will make their demands loud now,» the analyst said.

On the other hand, Kojala says, Lithuanian trade unions are very weak.

«Only around two or three percent of the country’s all workers are members of trade unions. That is a very low number,» the analyst underlined.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.3231


Leave a reply

Agreement reached with EC over MPC discount for energy-heavy manufacturers

After nearly a two-year long coordination process, Economy Ministry has received approval from the European Commission in relation to provision of state support to energy-heavy manufacturing companies that is intended to reduce the costs of those companies for electricity in relation to mandatory procurement component’s proportion in the end price of electricity, as BNN was informed by the ministry.

Association: Latvia has a distorted patient motivation for active rehabilitation

Latvian Association of Professional Rehabilitation Organizations believes Health and Labour Expert Physicians' State Commission’s reform would be rushed and would not provide intended results without first performing a change of the disability and labour ability inspection system.

Taxify and Uber drivers in Estonia declare 450,000 euros of income

Estonians, informing the state for income acquired through Uber and Taxify informal taxi services in 2016, have declared revenue totalling 450,000 euros, which is a jump from 67,800 euros.

State Audit elected in European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions board

Latvia’s State Audit has been elected in the board of European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions. This makes it one of eight board members for the next six years.

Discussions take place about the need to differentiate planned «healthcare fees»

An equal fixed payment rate for healthcare may not be the best solution, believes Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis. Coalition partners agree with the prime minister. They believe such a payment should be differentiated if it ever introduced.

Expert discussion: a unified transit corridor offer is desperately needed

«What is most important right now is the immediate creation of a unified transit corridor and a strategic plan for the development of the entire industry, as well as approval of strategic documents for the industry’s future activities,» as concluded at a discussion organized by Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics on the effect the new tax reform may have on the industry under conditions of declining cargoes.

Putin in France calls for lifting sanctions against Russian officials and companies

In a meeting with the new French President, Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for stronger economic relations and the lifting of sanctions imposed on Russia for its aggression against Ukraine.

Free skin test uncovers skin cancer for several Latvian residents

«The situation with skin cancer in Latvia requires attention, because three melanomas have been found among 3,000 people within eight hours. This shows a serious situation in the country,» BNN was told by chairman of Dermatologists Against Skin Cancer association Raimonds Karls.

Russian capital hit by tragic thunderstorm

Russian capital Moscow has been hit by a powerful thunderstorm that has taken the lives of at least 11 people. The storm on Monday, May 29, toppled hundreds of trees and that electrical cables were damaged as Moscow was lashed with high winds, hail and torrential rain.

Aseradens: businessmen are important partners for the country’s development

This week, Latvian Economy Minister Arvils Aseradens will invite businesses to contribute to development of innovations, adding that the country’s healthy development requires businessmen as invaluable partners, because development of products, services or innovations also contributes to the development of separate industries, as BNN was informed by Economy Ministry.

Murniece emphasizes Lithuania’s role in the fight against Russia’s information war

Latvia and Lithuania have to continue active cooperation in security and defence, as well as transport and energy, says Latvian Saeima speaker Inara Murniece during her meeting with Lithuanian Seimas Chairman Viktoras Pranckietis.

Need for additional income equally high in all three Baltic States

More than 36% of Latvian residents gained additional income in the past year, according to data of a study performed by Swedbank’s Institute of Finances.

Accommodation and catering service industry has become a risk sector in Latvia

Non-registered employment and accidents-wise, catering and accommodation service industry is one of Latvia’s risk sectors, as concluded by State Labour Inspectorate.

Construction costs in Latvia up 0.9% in April

Compared to March, the level of construction costs in Latvia increased by 0.9 % in April 2017. Labour remuneration of workers grew by 2.9 %, prices of building materials increased by 0.5 %, whereas maintenance and operational costs of machinery and equipment rose by 0.4 %.

Estonian wage growth slows down

The average monthly gross wage in Estonia, in the first three months of 2017, compared to the respective period last year, increased by 5.7%, Estonian statisticians have estimated and concluded that the country’s wage increase has continued to decelerate for year in a row.

Allied troops continue arriving in Latvia for military exercises

Saber Strike international military exercises in Europe will be taking place throughout 3 – 15 June. Allied troops and military vehicles continue arriving in Latvia. Because of that, there may be temporary traffic congestions on roads, as reported by Defence Ministry.

De Facto: millionaire Krumins’ family donates to UGF; four more houses to be built in Jurmala

Latvian businessman Julijs Krumins’ daughter donated EUR 19,000 to the Union of Greens and Farmers in May, as reported by LTV programme De Facto. Krumins has confirmed this, adding that «four more houses are to be built in Jurmala».

State law enforcement institutions join forces to combat crime

Latvia’s state law enforcement institutions join forces to combat crime. Work groups first meeting already held, as reported by State Police representatives.

Political fights for tax reforms planned to be concluded in Mid-June

Latvian government plans to view legislative drafts associated with the intended tax reform in the middle of June. Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola says the ministry is working hard to prepare legislative drafts. The objective is viewing legislative drafts in the government on 13 June, said the minister.

More rain expected in Latvia this week; air temperature to decline also

With the beginning of next week, weather in Latvia will be dictated by the south-east part of a cyclone. Central regions will likely experience short-term rain and even thunderstorms, as reported by the Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Germany: EU cannot fully depend on allies

The European Union cannot fully depend on the U.S. and UK anymore, the long-time German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has evaluated in election atmosphere.

Week in Lithuania. PM: Coalition isn't the best

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, whose government has been in office for half a year, says that the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union and the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party differ in their philosophies and approaches to many issues.

BNN summary of the week: Estonian minister disapproves of NATO; Latvia’s tax system lags behind

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Business; Change; Future; Decline; Truth and Growth.

Municipal elections 2017: what do people say?

With municipal elections gradually coming close, BNN offers a compilation of opinions provided by experts from different industries. Short answers consist of thoughts about specific municipalities that affect respondents directly, and municipal administrations in general – what people expect from officials and what changes they expect from elections.

Trade of natural gas to legal clients in Latvia commences

Trade of natural gas to legal clients in Latvia has commenced. Latvenergo’s Elektrum product offers fixed-price contracts for 12-month supply period. The first gas supply contracts have been signed with clients in Latvia, the company reports.

Newest comments