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Wednesday 08.04.2020 | Name days: Dana, Dans, Danute, Edgars

Trade unions urge Latvian government to resolve transit businesses’ blocked bank accounts problem

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Aivars Lembergs, sanctions, OFAC, Ventspils, trade unions, protestMultiple trade unions associated with the transit industry have turned to Latvia’s highest ranking officials with a request to resolve the situation with bank accounts of multiple transit companies having been blocked because of US sanctions against Aivars Lembergs. If the government does not act, trade unions promise to organize massive protests.

Trade unions operating at Ventspils port have sent a letter to Latvian President Egils Levits, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits, as well as Finance and Capital Market Commission (FKTK) council chairperson Santa Purgaile with an invitation to take immediate action in order to resolve the situation and provide banks explanations on how to act in cases when a person under sanctions and mentioned in the Enterprises Register of Latvia as beneficial owner has been separated from any control and influence after a court ruling.

«USA has imposed sanctions against Aivars Lembergs, but nearly one and a half thousand peple employed at Ventspils port and their families have to suffer from this,» as noted by Ventspils port-based companies’ trade union advisory council head Linards Gulbis.

«The situation is critical. If the government does not step in, trade unions will organize massive protests.»

The Latvian state institutions, municipalities, companies and finance employees trade union, which has 4 000 members, is prepared to join protests, as confirmed by the trade union’s board legal affairs advisor Ēriks Pūle.

Heads of trade unions of Ventspils transit sector say that behaviour of credit institutions creates a risk of many thousands in Ventspils potentially losing jobs in the transit industry and those employed in support sectors.

The highest ranking state officials are asked to protect citizens’ rights to receive appropriate wages, as well as prevent further destruction of the transit industry, Gulbis says.

«Because of blocked accounts, some of the companies are unable to pay wages to their employees, which is considered a breach of Section 107 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, which clearly states that every employed person has the right to receive, for work done, commensurate remuneration. This situation creates a growing social tension in Ventspils, because most people employed in those companies live from salary to salary – they do not have savings, and this means in the near future they may no longer be able to afford food, medical services and medicine, pay for utilities and cover other expenditures,» as mentioned in the letter sent by trade unions to heads of the government.

Read also: Transit industry: it is unacceptable for thousands of people to not receive wages because of Lembergs

Trade unions also add that by blocking or closing bank accounts of transit companies operating from Ventspils port that have been managed by Rudolf Meroni since 2007 by order of the Office of the Prosecutor General the borders of the sanctions imposed by OFAC against Aivars Lembergs are breached, because Lembergs has not had any control or influence over those companies for more than twelve years.

Heads of trade unions representing employees of the transit sector stress that the banks’ unwillingness to look into the actual situation put at risk the welfare and quality of life of thousands of families. A situation when countless honest Latvian taxpayers, who do their jobs and have nothing in common with Aivars Lembergs, have to suffer because of OFAC sanctions against him is unacceptable.

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