The choral artists’ trade union of the Latvian National Opera (LNO) plans to begin a strike starting from June 8, 2012. 47 members of the choral artists’ trade union will participate in the strike, requesting the resignation of LNO Board member Andrejs Zagars for his inability to ensure appropriate and competitive wages for choral artists.
In August, 2009, considering the financial situation in the country, LNO choral artists’ trade union agreed to the proposal of the administration to decrease the workload of choral artists, thereby accepting part-time employment – 34 hours per week and respectively 15% lower wages. In reality, however, the workload was not decreased, and for some choral artists it even increased, LNO choral artists’ trade union reports.
The LNO choral artists’ trade union voted for a strike in January, 2012 regarding unacceptable wages, but the January 9 agreement with the Ministry of Culture provides that the strike will not be allowed until a full audit report has been received. Despite the fact that no information about the LNO audit results and conclusions was given to the LNO choral artists’ trade union up until May 25. Also, LNO administration has not responded to the invitation to restore wages to choral artists to their original level, in other words, confirm the actual workload in writing – 40 hours per week. No proposals on the resolution of this situation were offered.
On May 9, the LNO choral artists’ trade union voiced their demand to restore workload and appropriate pay from June 1, 2012. LNO administration has yet to respond to this demand.
The trade union notes that LNO administration systematically violates the “Labour Law”, the regulation about probation period determination in repeatedly terminated contracts. This is a contradiction to the nature of probation period – confirmation of whether or not an employee is capable of fulfilling his duties, according to Court practice, can be set only once at one and the same employer.
LNO administration unjustly makes sure that full-time choral artists are employed for an indefinite period of time. Since 2009, the administration has made a number of contracts for 12 or 6 months with different choral artists, who participated in different events, thereby making new terminated contracts. This strategy put these choral artists in an unequal position with other choral artists, whose contracts were signed for an indefinite period and taking away their right for an annual vacation.
The goal of the strike is to prevent the aforementioned violations, to ensure a competitive salary and to have Zagars resign from his post.