RIGA - Laval un Partneri, a Latvian construction company, has run into a potential conflict in Sweden as a local trade union of construction workers is threatening to boycott the firm. The unionists are upset that the firm is using cheap Latvian workers to carry out construction contracts and have warned that they may go on strike on Dec. 2, according to reports.
The Swedish labor union has requested that Laval un Partneri close its collective agreement, which would lead to increased wages for all the firm's employees. Reports claimed that Latvian laborers in Sweden earn 6 lats (9 euros) - 8 lats per hour, while their Swedish counterparts earn the equivalent of 10 lats - 11 lats per hour.
Laval un Partneri, which is owned by director Guntis Tiltins, started work on a nearly 2 million lat school reconstruction project in the Stockholm suburb of Backsholm, as well as building an annex for the school.
The contracts with the Latvian workers were signed in Latvia, though a Swedish minister said all contractual obligations must correspond to Swedish law.
So far the company has failed to reach a compromise with the Swedish trade union. Fearing competition with Latvian construction workers, the union is demanding for the pay-hike, which would naturally lead to higher outlays. The labor union warned that they would prevent Swedish specialists from providing services to Laval un Partneri if the firm failed to raise wages.
Latvia's Foreign Ministry has even decided to step into the row. Foreign Ministry Deputy State Secretary Andris Teikmanis met the Swedish ambassador to Latvia on Nov. 17 and called on the Swedish government to help solve the problem.
Teikmanis believes that Latvian companies and their employees should have the same rights as Swedish workers. This would help avoid the possibility of open discrimination based on citizenship, as well as getting around restriction of competitiveness and freedom of services in the European Union.
Having met its liabilities for EU accession, today Latvia's market is fully open to all EU member states, as provided under the treaty establishing the European communities, which includes trade, movement of labor and services, and other sectors of economy. Latvia expects the same from other partner countries, including Sweden, Teikmanis said.
Laval un Partneri was founded in 1998, according to Lursoft's company-register data base. The firm's share capital is 123,820 lats. Last year it earned 2.04 million lats in sales and 59,600 lats in profit.