Estonian trade unions condemning Tallink's behavior in labor dispute

  • 2023-01-17
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Listed Estonia shipper Tallink aggressively discouraging its employees who are standing up for their rights transgresses both legal and regular norms, as workers' right to defend their rights has been stipulated in the Collective Labor Dispute Resolution Act, the Estonian Trade Union Confederation said.

The valid law provides for a three-day advance notice and an hour-long warning strike, both of which the Estonian Seamen's Independent Union (EMSA) has complied with, which means the actions by EMSA are lawful and hindering them does not fall under the competence of Tallink, the Trade Union Confederation noted.

EMSA announced last week that they will stage an hour-long warning strike with work stoppage on three ships of Tallink on Monday, Jan. 16, starting at 5:30 p.m., in order to push for progress in the wage negotiations. According to the union, the 7-10 percent wage increase over a two-year period that the employers have granted to employees is not acceptable for employees considering the increase in the cost of living and the resulting drop in real wages. No meetings have been held over the past month and the reconciliation process has been slow. Only workers in the shipper's service departments took part in the strike and the timely arrival of the vessels was ensured.

"The reaction of Tallink Grupp to the announcement of a warning strike has been frustrating. The employer is trying to paint the activities of the trade union and employees as unlawful and has threatened to fire the workers participating in the strike," the Trade Union Confederation said.

"A judgment pertaining to the lawfulness of the warning strike will be delivered by the court, not the employer, which makes the misleading information being spread by Tallink deeply reprehensible. Just like the trade union cannot prevent the people who have not joined the strike from working, the employer has no right to hinder the demonstration of participants in the warning strike pursuing sufficient pay rise," the association added.

Head of the Trade Union Confederation Jaan-Hendrik Toomel is surprised by Tallink's behavior.

"It is inappropriate to denigrate workers and their representative organization while running a business under the rule of law in the 21st century," Toomel said, and recommended that Tallink regard the trade union as a partner and adopt a respectful attitude towards workers' wishes.