About 300 people organized by Lithuanian trade unions gathered to protest the new Labour Code, which critics say will narrow the social benefits for employees.

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© DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

The protesters were urged not to vote for any MPs in support of liberalization of the Labour Code during the October general elections. Meanwhile, the government maintains that reforms are necessary to create new jobs and attract investments.

Kristina Krupavičienė, the leader of the Solidarity trade union, said the new Labour Code would boost emigration.

"They say that wages will rise and new jobs will be created. When? In the future. Some time in the future, not now. People need to live now," Krupavičienė said at the event.

Trade union representatives have criticized the proposal to lower severance pay and trim periods of severance notice. The participants of the Thursday's action said there was no dialogue with the government on the proposed reforms.

The participants chanted "shame" and held signs reading "Butkevičius, We Hate You, We Don't Want to Go Back to Slavery, Shame for Taking Away Our Last Guarantees."

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said the government was "involved in democratic discussions" on the new social model. In his words, the government's efforts to revamp the Labour Code have been applauded by the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"I expect understanding and approval from all trade unions and all employees that we can no longer disregard the gaps in the social security of employees, the ageing of the population, and low competition," the prime minister said in a comment to BNS Lithuania.

The parliament is scheduled to open discussions of the new Labour Code next week.

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