European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Strikes in Estonia: background summary

  • Industrial action and the right to strike are regulated by the Collective Labour Dispute Resolution Act (Kollektiivse töötüli lahendamise seadus).
  • The right to strike arises only if there is no prohibition against disruption of work in force, if the prescribed conciliation procedures have been conducted but no conciliation has been achieved, if the conciliation agreement has not been complied with, or if a court judgment has not been executed.
  • A decision to organise a strike is made at a general meeting of employees or by an association or federation of employees (trade union). The organiser of a strike is required to notify the other party, the national conciliator and the local government in writing at least two weeks in advance of the planned strike.
  • Warning strikes of up to one hour are also allowed to be organised, with a notification of at least five days in advance. Sympathy/solidarity strikes, with a maximum duration of three days, in support of employees engaging in a strike are also permitted, with a mandatory three-day notice. Political strikes are not allowed in Estonia.
  • Participation in the strike is voluntary and it is prohibited to impede the performance of work by employees who are not participating in the strike.
  • Strikes are prohibited in governmental authorities and other state bodies and local governments (except in the case of those employed under an employment contract), in the Ministry of Defence, the Defence Resources Agency, the Defence Forces, the Defence League, the courts and rescue service agencies.
  • In Estonia, strikes are a rare phenomenon.  In the last decade, there have been two major strikes, both in 2012. In the education sector, the national teachers’ strike lasted for three days, with nearly 13,000 teachers participating. The strike resulted in a pay rise, but the teachers’ demands were not entirely met. In the healthcare sector, the strike lasted for 25 days; altogether around 1,200 doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers participated. The strike resulted in a collective agreement, which increased wages and reduced the workload.
  • In recent years, there have been other forms of industrial action in Estonia, mainly demonstrations and a few warning strikes. These have mostly taken place in the transport, maritime, energy and healthcare sectors.
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