ETUC letter: Lithuania needs a significant increase of the minimum monthly wage

Letter sent to Saulius Skvernelis, Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania 

Subject: Lithuania needs a significant increase of the minimum monthly wage

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) supports the position of the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LTUC/LPSK), which is its affiliate, and favours its aim to raise the minimum monthly wage in Lithuania by 50 instead of 20 euros.

Furthermore, the ETUC agrees with Lithuanian trade unions who stress that due to the extremely low purchasing power, even the increase of minimum monthly wage by 50 euros is insufficient. Compared to the majority of the EU countries the income of Lithuanian workers is still low.

In 2015 almost 10% of workers in the EU Member States were living at risk of poverty. In Lithuania this indicator reaches 22% (2016). The pace of growth of Lithuanian workers‘ income is lagging behind the pace at which the country‘s productivity is increasing. 

In April the ETUC issued an ‘emergency alert’ which highlighted countries and situations where the opportunity for working people in Europe to achieve decent wages and working conditions is under threat. We see that Lithuania is one of those countries with the largest number of ‘red’ warnings. It is clear that the situation has to change.

The ETUC has expertise in observing, analysing, evaluating and influencing socio-economic tendencies and processes in Europe. With that in mind, we disagree with one of the main arguments against the higher increase of the minimum monthly wage. The representatives of the Lithuanian government and the Bank of Lithuania state that if the ratio of average wage to the minimal monthly wage in Lithuania goes higher than 50% it would endanger the stability of the national economy and would have a very negative effect on the business. This argument would not hold up under scrutiny. We emphasize that in many countries in the EU the ratio between minimum and average wages is higher. Very often we see opposite consequences and the raise of the minimum wage contributes to the growth of national economies. The ETUC seeks that this indicator would reach 60% eventually.

The increase of the minimum monthly wage would be a step in the right direction. We urge the Government and Tripartite Council of the Republic of Lithuania to respect rightful expectations and interests of the Lithuanian workers which will bring many benefits in the future.

Luca Visentini
ETUC General Secretary