We present your delegate from ..... Lithuania!


The ESSDE delegate from Lithuania is Tatjana Babrauskiene, International secretary of FLESTU (Federation of Lithuanian Education and Science Trade Unions).

Please, tell us about yourself and describe what a typical work day looks like for you!

Speaking about my work day, the word “typical” does not really apply: my days at work are hardly ever the same! Working at international level requires frequent travel and many different activities which make every day different. Often, I start my work in another country. Often, it begins even in an airplane which offers the opportunity to work through the documents for the upcoming meeting.

During a typical work week in Lithuania, one of my key tasks is to assess our union’s progress in daily operations at national level and in the international projects we participate in. First of all, I like to meet my colleagues on the day I return to the office to discuss our priorities, to troubleshoot any problems that may have occurred. For example, at last week’s meeting we noticed a slight delay in a long-term project. In good team work completed the most urgent tasks and elaborated a new strategy for increased efficiency.

The typical work week foresees to training programs that we provide such as  last week’s training for adult education providers on a peer review implementation on a quality assurance methodology in their institutions. Additionally, I had to participate in a series of meetings such as of the National Council where I represent the trade unions. These meetings do usually take place when I am in the country.

At the end of each week, I make sure I have completed the weekly communication via email. To be honest, I don’t always manage due to the huge amount of requests to participate in surveys and to answer questionnaires next to all other equally time consuming correspondence. Finally, I prepare a to-do list for the following week.

Generally, I try to plan my working time. I think it helps massively not to waste time on trifles and to do everything at a the same time. As a trade unionist I know I should not work on Sundays. However,  I have to admit it is almost impossible unless I decide to disconnect from the internet and iPad civilization.

One thing I love about my work is that it is never the same, never routine, and that I have a great opportunity to meet so many interesting people. At the same time it is very challenging and demanding though.

How long have you been involved for in social dialogue both at national and at European level?

Since 2004 I have been involved in social dialogue in Lithuania. I joined the trade union movement at the European level almost at the same time, when we became members of the European Union which was on 1 May 2004. In 2010, when the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education was established, I was appointed as the Lithuanian ESSDE delegate.

What is the current situation with regard to the education social dialogue in Lithuania?

It is best to describe this situation as “turbulent”. When you have reached good negotiation results, you never know whether to relax or to expect that the government will create some obstacles to endanger the implementation of the agreement. In addition, every new coming government  forces us to take up the same work again not recognizing existing agreements.

Generally speaking, it is difficult to have a strong social dialogue in a country with very poor traditions and a low unionization rate. In the education sector the union is even one of the biggest and strongest trade unions in Lithuania. About 99% of all strikes during the past few years were staged by education establishments.

What are the main issues at stake for FLESTU ?

We clearly focus on the issue of salary increases for teachers. With currently 644,1 Euro gross (503,2 Euro net) a month it is one of the lowest remunerations of teachers in Europe. Many teachers ( about 30%) have just part time contracts.  In April, an agreement was reached foreseeing a salary raise for educators in general education as well as for newly qualified teachers. The agreement established an increase of the severance pay fund for retiring teachers, too. Currently, we are in the next round of negotiations on possible further improvements in the education system.

For us, another important issue at stake is the possibility of merging the three national education trade unions into one organization.

What opportunities does your engagement in the ESSDE possibly open up for your work at home and vice versa?

Mainly, the engagement in the ESSDE helped me to look at social dialogue and all education sector processes in a holistic way. I believe that the ESSDE ensures permanent links with European strategies beyond the scale of a Member State. It focuses on all levels of education policy implementation. It includes the European as well as the national and the regional or local level. We can all just benefit from it.

Personally, I hope that the Lithuanian education employer which is the government or its delegated institution (Ministry of Education and Science) will soon realise the importance of the European social dialogue, too. Unfortunately, the Lithuanian education employer does not participate in the ESSDE yet.

With regards to the very new ESSDE work program 2016-17, what topic lies at the heart of the concerns of FLESTU members and why?

The biggest concern for FLESTU is to insure that our key tool which is the social dialogue can function properly. Therefore we see the “Promotion of Social Dialogue” as the most topical issue regarding the situation in Lithuania.

At the moment, the draft legislation prepared in the framework of the social model having a specific emphasis on the draft Labour code is passing the Parliament. The new social model poses a serious attack to social dialogue. It aims at the fundamental amendment of legal provisions regulating labour relations and social issues which will considerably reduce the current social guarantee of employees. It will also have negative effects on working conditions and the state of social dialogue itself.

In a nutshell: What makes a good dialogue?

Well, the equality of social partners but then trust, of course. There has to be  confidence when you aim to achieve the general goal which is above all individual  and personal. Social partners have to be equally committed and willing to work together towards their agreed work goals.