Trade unions: To maintain jobs, wage compensation must continue

Estonian Trade Union Confederation (EAKL) chairman Peep Peterson.
Estonian Trade Union Confederation (EAKL) chairman Peep Peterson. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

At a trilateral meeting with the prime minister and employers on Tuesday, trade unions intended to emphasize the need to continue the Unemployment Insurance Fund's wage compensation measure, the Estonian Trade Union Confederation (EAKL) said in a press release ahead of the meeting.

The trade unions included on the meeting agenda a post-crisis economic recovery program and consider the continuation of the wage compensation program as one part of said recovery program.

"At least inn the first phase, we should continue with wage compensation in sectors where there is hope for the market to recover but not that quickly," EAKL chairman Peep Peterson said, stressing that preserving jobs is very important.

"Unfortunately, we already put 90 percent of our energy into the first round of support from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and we definitely need an injection of money by the government to continue," Peterson explained. "We do not consider it right to take money from the reserves for the unemployed only, which we may desperately need in he coming years, especially as special funding channels have been set up for governments in the European Union to finance such support measures. The government's funding contribution cannot be zero."

Also set to be discussed at the meeting was the flexibility of labor relations by the example of the trade sector. The trade unions are in favor of this when it is carried out by way of a balanced agreement.

"We have repeatedly pointed out that the need for flexibility varies greatly from sector to sector, and that the ability of workers to accept flexibility also varies from sector to sector," Peterson said. "We would like to commend the Estonian Traders Association and the Estonian Service and Trade Workers Union, who have specifically taken on negotiations and are moving toward a solution. We also encourage other areas interested in flexibility to launch an open dialogue."

Regular trilateral meetings between the government, trade unions are employers were restored by Jüri Ratas' (Center) previous government in May 2018. The meetings build on the motto of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which is celebrating its centennial this year, according to which the guidance of economic and labor policy must be subject to cooperation among employees, employers and governments.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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