Estonia: one union signs collective accord with Narva power plants

Narva elektrijaam

PHOTO: Liis Treimann

The Miners and Energy Workers Independent Trade Union on Wednesday signed a collective agreement with Eesti Energia Narva Elektrijaamad, the power generating subsidiary of the state-held Eesti Energia group, while the Narva Energy Union representing 350 workers is polling its members about a possible strike.

Under the accord with the Miners and Energy Workers Independent Trade Union valid from March 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2014, the pay of workers will rise 9 percent on the average.

Raising the pay of workers was a central topic at the negotiations on the collective agreement, Eesti Energia said. The parties agreed that the pay of 204 workers will be raised by 9 percent on average from March 1 this year.

Tonu Aas, CEO of the power plants company, described the collective agreement as a good compromise between the company's possibilities and the expectations of the union. "Negotiations on the collective agreement have been held since October 2012. Although the sides had to make concessions compared with their original demands, we can be satisfied with the result," Aas said, adding that a pay rise offer of the same size for the rest of the company's workers remained in force.

Vladislav Ponjatovski, chairman of the Miners and Energy Workers Independent Trade Union, said the union and the employer arrived at a compromise satisfying both sides. "The agreed pay rise compensates workers for the increase in the consumer price index. We are satisfied with the course of the negotiations and the achieved result, because in addition to the base wage our workers also get performance pay equaling up to 100 percent of base wage and an emergency call pay of 5 percent of base wage. A good motivation package with social guarantees and extra leave will be preserved for us," the union leader said.

The public conciliator, Henn Parn, said the signing of the new collective agreement once again proves that long-term experience of the sides in social dialogue helped them achieve a compromise.

Eesti Energia Narva Elektrijaamad continues negotiations with the Narva Energy Union representing 350 energy workers in the northeastern border city, the energy company said.

The energy workers union began asking its members on Monday if they want to strike for a higher pay rise than the offer from the public conciliator, the union's chairman Vladimir Aleksejev said.

"We have neither rejected nor accepted the proposal from the public conciliator from the end of last week for wages to be increased by almost 9 percent," Aleksejev told BNS on Monday. "We will poll energy workers this week whether or not they are ready to fight by means of a strike for our proposal to raise pay by 15 percent from January 1 this year and by a further 10 percent from January 1, 2014."

Aleksejev said that if 75-80 percent of workers are in favor of a strike the unions will use their legitimate right to step out of the conciliation procedure and start preparing for industrial action. "If a strike doesn't find support, we will have to accept the public conciliator's proposal and sign the pay rise agreement," he said.

Aleksejev said the union was due to come up with a concrete response to the conciliator and the employer already next Monday.