School scamming its teachers

In times of crisis, there will always be those who try to make a buck. Some employers buy their own cars with COVID-19 subsidies, leaving their workers unpaid and on ice. Others are able to use international conflicts to their advantage. Under the guise of educating Belarusian refugee children, a seemingly charitable activity, the private school UAB Stembridge has been operating illegally in the heart of Vilnius, next to the Ministry of Education, for six months. If it were not for one of the school’s former teachers, Daiva, this school might have continued its activities, charging €5,000 to €6,000 a year for tuition, disguising employment relations as self-employment, and not paying salaries. Thanks to Daiva’s complaints, the school was investigated by both the Ministry and the State Labour Inspectorate. Despite the recorded violations and fines for illegal work, we must admit that our institutions act more as consultative than regulating bodies, and there is also the agreement not to punish a “start-up business” in the first year of its existence, no matter how maliciously it may behave.

Daiva and G1PS will go to the Labour Disputes Commission to claim what is due to her, and we invite you to get to know the story of UAB Stembridge in the lrytas.tv report.

 

G1PS helps café worker get his pay

With our help, a former employee of the Movido café has recovered his money. To our knowledge, this is not the first time the café has failed to pay its workers.

This time, however, the worker took photographs of work schedules and other documents.

Although we won the case in court back in autumn, the company’s director has still not paid the worker. It took half a year for bailiffs to recover the money, because the funds were simply not in the company’s account. As the bailiff explained, the only money in the account is the Covid grant from which the director paid her own salary, but the bailiffs cannot touch it. (A nice example of where state aid for business has gone.)

For many people, their first jobs are in cafés and bars, where they have to learn not only how to serve food and drink, but also the ABC of labour rights. Many catering companies do not keep track of working hours, do not pay for overtime, nights and holidays, and in some places you cannot even find employment contracts, especially if the person concerned is not from Lithuania. And then there are the many duties that are not listed in the contract. It would be good if these problems were confined to small businesses like Movido, but unfortunately, the giants of the sector, such as Charlie’s Pizza and other chain cafés, show as little respect for workers and their rights.

 

G1PS joins Achema workers’ strike

 

Today, we participated and continued to support Achema workers and their union, who are demanding that the company sign a collective agreement. We share the speech delivered by Jurgis Valiukevičius during the support action:

“Hello everyone,
I am glad that so many of us are here. I am encouraged and inspired by the determination of the Achema people – despite the employer’s intimidation and manipulation, I am confident that the strike will continue until victory is achieved. Do you agree with me?
Can you believe that this is the first strike in 30 years in a private company? We have probably had a very good life, which is why only so few of us have gone on strike.
Of course, I am joking. No, we have been so impoverished that most people in Lithuania dare not raise their heads. We have been told for 30 years that our success is in our own hands. And we looked at those hands and only saw the middle finger!
But I know who is doing really well, the only question is whether that success comes from work and personal effort.
When I was preparing for the rally, I looked at Lyda Lubienė’s assets – €395 million. And that is not counting her daughter, who is also a millionaire.
Just think, if Lyda were an Achema employee and worked for, say, €2,000 a month, she should have started her career before the last glaciers retreated from Lithuania – 16, 458 years ago!
For the 2019 dividend alone, €10 million, Lubienė would have had to work since the times of Vytautas the Great, 450 years!
She would have earned this wealth only if she did not have to pay 40% of her salary in taxes, buy food, medicine, transport, pay the ever-increasing bills for heating, electricity, water, bring up her children, and take care of other relatives.
In other words, the only way Lubiene could earn this money with her own hands is if she were not a human being, but a machine that eats only air and never breaks down!
Today we hear accusations from the company’s managers that the strikers want too much – something the company cannot afford. But you are the ones who want too much!
You are an example for the whole of Lithuania today! You will prove that wealth of unimaginable proportions is powerless against the solidarity of the people!
Dear friends, I wish you strength, unflagging solidarity and that the strike grows every day until the upper caste has to descend from the golden skies!”

 
 

Achema workers go on strike

 

Today, Achema workers and the Achema Workers’ Union launched the first strike of this kind in the history of independent Lithuania. G1PS is joining to support them in Jonava and Vilnius. Everyone is welcome to join in on Friday, and we will announce more details later. Anyone who is willing and able to contribute to the struggle for a better situation for workers can do so by making a donation to this Achema Workers’ Union account:

AB SWEDBANK

A/s LT477300010002514614

The funds will be used to compensate the wages of striking workers. A report of how the funds are spent will be made available for everyone to see. We also invite you to read the article by Jurgis Valiukevičius and the interview with Achema workers about the history of the company, working conditions and why the workers are on strike.

We wish the strikers determination and success.

Let’s liberalise our right to strike

“I want to be very clear: we have a constitutional right to strike, but we can see that this right is being curtailed by legislation. There are no deadlines, there are no clear procedures and, of course, employers take advantage of this situation. Today, we have to broadcast very clearly that if we are talking about liberalising labour relations, we should also allow workers to freely decide on strikes,” Markevičius summarises the situation of workers in Lithuania.

Freeing strikes from the bureaucratic trap could give a much-needed boost to workers and trade unions to regain their breath and trust in each other. The coming 1 May and next year’s elections could be the perfect opportunity to start the debate and look for allies who can liberalise labour relations – only this time for our benefit and not for business.

In the meantime, G1PS invites you to support Vilnius public transport workers – their victory will encourage everyone else to make our voices heard.

Read more about Vilnius public transport workers and the planned strike in Jurgis Valiukevičius’ article on GPB.

 
 

Victories and challenges of 2021

 

The year 2021 was a very difficult one – Lithuanian policymakers were disappointingly indifferent to humanity, the cost of living rose sharply, and the tax system remained unchanged, with the lowest and middle-income earners still bearing the brunt. However, as we look back on these difficult years, we want to remember why we exist and celebrate the achievements of G1PS.

FIGURES
G1PS membership doubled in 2021
We raised almost twice as much money from the 0.6% personal income tax as last year
LABOUR VICTORIES
Ukrainian construction worker won compensation dispute
An Indian employee of a restaurant in Vilnius recovered unpaid wages
A girl who was sexually harassed in a restaurant in Vilnius secured a compensation
Workers in an agricultural company recovered their wages and secured compensations
Our member, employee of a restaurant in Kaunas, won a dispute over unpaid wages
COURIER ASSOCIATION
First strike of couriers outside Wolt headquarters in Vilnius
We became an active participant in national and international negotiations to improve conditions for platform workers
We launched Tuesday lunch initiative for couriers in Vilnius and Kaunas
WHAT ELSE HAVE WE DONE?
Won a case against Kaunas City Council – Kaunas Pride march took place!
Action against the construction of a new road on the banks of the Nemunas River in Kaunas
Together with other civic organisations, we drafted a petition and held a protest “Asylum seeking is not a crime”. Our members are still actively contributing to humanitarian aid in migrant camps and at the border
We held lectures on labour law at VDU and VU TSMPI. We are grateful to the student movement âuksmas for organizing them
And of course, many more unmentioned internal discussions, arguments and conversations. We have more plans and goals for 2022 than we have capacity, so if you like our activities – join in!

Start the new year by filling in the membership application: http://g1ps.lt/prisijunk/

 

Couriers’ association invites for Tuesday lunch

Couriers’ association announce a new initiative – every Tuesday in Kaunas and Vilnius couriers are invited to have a common lunch. It’s a great opportunity to not only to have some cheap lunch (“pay what you can”) but also to meet each other.
👉In Kaunas, starting from tomorrow (2021-12-07) 2-4pm you can get a hot chili stew at Socialinis Centras “Emma” (A. Mickevičiaus g. 35, second floor. The entrance is from the backyard).
👉In Vilnius, starting from the next week Tuesday (2021-12-14), same time, at social centre Luna6, Zanavykų g. 6, Naujininkai.
❤P.S. Since Covid pandemic is still on, we ask you to be vaccinated.

Eco-Unions: Organized Labour in the Ecological Transition (ft. Printemps écologique)

1.2 billion jobs (40% of the global workforce) depend directly on natural processes. Global warming induced change to these processes will fundamentally reshape our labour markets. That’s why ecologically-minded organized labour is crucial so that we are not the ones to pay the price of environmental shocks caused by reckless business practices, and to better position workers in the ecological transition so that we don’t end up bearing the brunt of the industrial shifts towards decarbonization.
Eco-unionism stands at the intersection of social and environmental struggles, with the main goal to reinvent the trade union tool to accelerate the ecological and social transition. It is a new concept pioneered in France 2020 by the collective behind “le Printempts écologique” (the Ecological Spring) trade union federation who are currently fighting to include the climate emergency into the French Labour Code.
On Tuesday the 24th of November, 4pm Lithuanian time (GMT+2), G1PS will be virtually meeting one of the founders of “Printemps écologique” – Anne Le Corre – to tell us more about the role of organized labour in the ecological transition and how to run an eco-union.
The event will take place on zoom, and open to anyone who wants to do more about the environmental crisis. After a short presentation on Anne’s organization we will open the floor to any questions or suggestions you might have.

Find more information about the event on facebook: https://fb.me/e/QRXd4jn6

Wolt will cover accident insurance for couriers!

From May 1st, Wolt is introducing workplace insurance for accidents at work.
?According to the information provided by Wolt, couriers will get insurance in case of dislocation of joints, fractures of bones (except fingers), as well as cover medical or dental treatments incurred as a result accidents while at work. In case of death, relatives are able to get a one-time compensation.
⛔However, the insurance will not cover expenses for you transport or cellphones and other equipment. As well, last incomes will not be covered by the insurance – the issue that is very important for gig-economy workers, because most of the people do not get compensations from State for sick-leave.
❌At the moment, Wolt is the only e. platform that covers insurance for its’ couriers. Unfortunately, other platforms (Bolt Food, Zitcity and others) have not shown any interest to solve this issue and provide at least a minimal safety net for their workers.
❗Our position – safe work cannot be a privilege and it is a essential for any worker. We believe that the insurance provided by Wolt is a first step improving the work conditions of couriers in Lithuania. 
?Join discussion about the insurance on our facebook platform or telegram!

First meeting with representatives of “Bolt”

Yesterday we had the first meeting with “Bolt” representatives. As we expected, “Bolt” stated their position on our demands that could be briefly summed up as “business is growing and we do not see any issues”.

More than 20 people participated in the meeting – most of them couriers and our colleagues. We met three representatives of the company – director Andrius Pacevičius, regional manager for “Bolt food” Ruslanas Savičius and public relation specialist (who only followed the meeting ). Vuk Vukotic represented Couriers Association. Several couriers spoke out about work conditions – Meda, Dovydas, Povilas and Paolo.

The company presented various numbers and averages, lessons about free market and so called “historical facts” (data generated by couriers and taxi drivers) that they use to regulate the number of couriers.

As we expected, “Bolt” did not agree to stop the employment of couriers and cooperate with us to ensure stable work. According to company representatives, at the moment the average level of orders is enough for couriers to earn average salary.

The option to choose work paid by hour was as well neglected by the employer. They stated that at the moment the average hourly wage is higher than 5 euros, reaching more than 6 euros, therefore, they see that there is no need for such regulation.

They also rejected the demand to raise the basic tariff per delivery to 3,5 euro. Raising of tariff would  “push the company out of competition” – regional manager stated. As well, the representatives mentioned, that they would pursue for reduction of supplementary benefits in case of higher tariff.


Apart from demands raised in the petition, we discussed the work safety issues. Dovydas, one of the couriers, told the story about his work injury – while delivering food to the client, he fell from the bike and suffered heavy head injury. The company representative answered with a “lesson”, that “he should be more careful, don’t speed too much and take care of the food”, as well adding that “you can choose car, if the bicycle is unsafe for you”.

Paulo, another courier, spoke about situation in Italy. Although the platform companies are not recognized as “traditional employer”, but they are obliged to pay social security taxes and provide the couriers with 5 days compensation in case of accident or sick leave.

Although the meeting was quite vague, we hope that the dialogue will proceed and we will reach constructive decisions. “Bolt” director promised to share information about how many couriers are employed, how they define the needed number of couriers,  what are the average wages and other important information. Knowing this information we could understand the situation better and proceed with more constructive proposals on how to ensure safer and more stable work.

At the moment we are preparing an official letter to the company  to ask for information about couriers. The director of company promised to send an answer in one week.