Lithuanian employers complain that they cannot fill vacancies, putting the blame on unemployment benefits introduced during the pandemic. Meanwhile, worker representatives say employers are simply unwilling to offer attractive work conditions and pay.
The Lithuanian government has introduced the monthly “jobseeker’s allowance” of 212 euros to help the unemployed survive the quarantine. The government has also offered subsidies to cover pay for furloughed workers.
Some employers argue that the allowance, which is equivalent to a third of the minimum wage, is too generous and discourages people from work.
“If there are 40,000 vacancies and nobody wants to fill them, it is very difficult for businesses to operate,” Dalia Matukiene, chairwoman of the Small and Medium-sized Business Council, said. “After the period of shutdown, businesses now have opportunities to resume their operations, but there are no people to work, since they prefer to register with the Employment Service and get money from the state.”
According to Matukiene, more than 200,000 people in Lithuania have registered as unemployed and prefer to take up unofficial jobs in order not to lose the benefits.
Meanwhile, Kristina Krupaviciene, chairwoman of the Lithuanian trade union Solidarumas (Solidarity), claims that the government’s support is very limited and relatively few people have made use of it.
According to Krupaviciene, workers resist employers’ pressure to do more work for the same pay as before.
“The main reason is a failure to reach an agreement with businesses. Workload has increased substantially, unlike wages,” she said, adding that some people who worked during the pandemic wanted to go on vacation in summer and quitted their jobs because their bosses wouldn’t let them.
According to data from the Employment Service, there were 239,500 people registered as unemployed on June 1. The number went down by 6,800 from May, but remained 35,800 above what it was in 2020. (LRT/Business World Magazine)