Valdemar Tomaševski: the voice of citizens must be heard
A huge protest rally ‘Against unjust social and educational policy’ will take place on 16th October by the Government’s building in Vilnius.
‘The Supreme Council of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, firmly believing that the Government does not fulfil its programme, on 9th October made a decision to express the support for demands of the rally,’ announced today the Vice-Chairwoman of the EAPL faction in Seimas Vanda Kravčonok during a press conference organized in the Seimas.
Imposed social model
‘The Government does not realize its programme; it even introduces contradictory changes in this document which somehow has the power of law. Moreover, it rejects any proposals directed to realizing the Governments’ program,’ said the Chairman of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, Member of the European Parliament, Valdemar Tomaševski.
‘We shall improve the social dialog between employers, state, and employees. We will keep increasing workers’ unions influence on taken decisions’ – this part of the Governments’ programme is not being realized according to V. Tomaševski.
‘The mentioned dialog currently does not exist. Lithuanian citizens made a clear point of that by organizing a rally next to the Seimas on 10th September this year. Representatives of workers’ unions strongly disagreed with the proposal of 3-days (instead of 2-months) termination notice, reduction of salaries and redundancy payments, lengthening of working week from 40 to 60 hours, introduction of fixed-term contracts for permanent staff, cancelation of leaves for seniority, prolongation of the period to acquire the right to a pension by 5 years, reduction of social guarantees for employees raising children, and limiting the activity of workers’ unions,’ stressed the EAPL leader. He also added that the Government does not consider demands of the citizens who are becoming increasingly unhappy with the new social model and Lithuania is on the verge of becoming a country which will reduce social guarantees for working people by almost a half.
National minorities forgotten again
According to the EAPL leadership, the Government is not complying with its obligations to guarantee national minorities’ rights.
‘We are working on draft law on national minorities. We will call a special department whose sole function will be representing national minorities. On the basis of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities we will solve the issue of writing names and surnames in native languages in identification documents and names of the streets and towns,’ said V. Tomaševski. He thinks that the Government is not realizing this part of the programme because the draft law has not even been confirmed in the Government.
‘The Department is functioning but it does not change the situation. Similar unit already functions in the Ministry of Culture, but recently it has been secluded. It has a new manager but it does not improve the situation of national minorities, they do not receive more funding,’ said the EAPL chairman.
According to V. Tomaševski, the new ruling coalition did nothing in the area of double naming of streets and towns. ‘Already during the term of the current Government huge fines for signs posted even in the Soviet times were issued,’ regretted the politician.
To add, the EAPL leader regretted about the inability of the Government to fulfil its obligations to transform the network of Polish and Russian schools with taking into account the interests of the community. ‘The interests of the community are completely ignored, decisions are being made and transformation is being carried out violently,’ marked Tomaševski, reminding that 50 national minorities’ schools are already closed while 10 more are under threat.
249th point of the Government’s programme includes the commitment to postpone the examination of the state language for graduates from non-Lithuanian schools. ‘The examination has not been postponed. Students from non-Lithuanian schools have to take same exams as students from Lithuanian schools. It is discrimination because the results of this exam are taken into account when trying to get to universities,’ said member of the European Parliament.
Never-ending process of land restitution
At the start of its term, the Government undertook to finalize the process of land restitution. However, as stated by EAPL, this obligation is ignored as well.
‘There are 4000 citizens waiting for the return of their lands in Vilnius, while in a whole country – over a dozen of thousands. The ruling coalition did nothing to execute this plan and additionally dismissed proposals made by EAPL which were targeted at fastening and finalising the process of land restitution. I turned to the Prime Minister with a request to take immediate actions for returning lands for citizens in Vismaliukai district. The Government, instead of returning land to its rightful owners, is trying to grant these lands the status of national importance what would mean that owners of these lands could not get them back. Some people have been waiting for their lands more than 25 years. All of this is taking place without respecting law. That is why I asked the Government’s head to postpone the process of granting these lands the status of national importance until returning them to their rightful owners. Besides, the EAPL faction prepared other drafts aimed at accelerating the process of land restitution,’ announced V. Tomaševski.
‘Citizens cannot be fooled’
The Chairman of the party also informed that EAPL Seimas faction prepared more Seimas draft resolutions regarding the adjustment of the remuneration of teachers of preschools and schools and regarding the increase of salaries of the lowest paid public sector employees (cultural employees, librarians).
‘We hope that Seimas will support our propositions,’ EAPL does not lack optimism.
Organisers of protest rally are expecting 2000 people to join the event. The demands of picketers were already supported by the Lithuanian Education Employees Trade Union and political party ‘Alliance of Russians’, negotiations for support are going on with the Lithuanian Trade Union ‘Solidarumas’ and other political parties.
‘We lack widespread solidarity in such important for our citizens matters. We cannot stay quiet when employees in our country are risking losing almost half of their social guarantees,’ underlined V. Tomaševski. ‘The voice of our citizens must be heard. People cannot be fooled’ he added.