Bloomberg News

Estonia Unions Protest in Capital Over Collective Agreement Plan

February 20, 2012

Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- More than a thousand Estonian workers marched and staged a rally in the center of the capital Tallinn to protest government plans to make it easier for employers to terminate collective agreements.

Protesters, many of whom were representatives of the mainly Russian-speaking mining and energy workers’ unions from northeastern Estonia, today carried slogans through Tallinn’s medieval old town saying “For a decent life,” and “Workers won’t let themselves be fooled.”

The government “keeps demonstrating a reckless and patronizing attitude toward workers,” Harri Taliga, the chairman of the Confederation of Estonian Trade Unions, said in a speech at the rally.

Draft legislation that’s cleared the first of three parliamentary readings would stop collective agreements from running indefinitely, which the Justice Chancellor has ruled unconstitutional, according to an explanatory letter on the legislature’s website. Lawmakers have ignored the unions’ proposals to keep the main terms of a terminated agreement valid for a transition period, harming workers’ rights, Taliga said yesterday in a phone interview.

The unions plan to hold protests at their workplaces next week and will begin strikes on March 5. The action will peak with a strike of teachers and daycare workers, starting March 7, which may be supported by other unions, according to Taliga.

--Editors: Rob Verdonck, Simone Meier

-0- Feb/18/2012 16:03 GMT

-0- Feb/18/2012 16:12 GMT

To contact the reporter on this story: Ott Ummelas in Tallinn at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at -0- Feb/18/2012 14:06 GMT

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