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Opinion: construction industry wants answers about Rail Baltica

Publicity photo.
Although not rapid, growth in the construction sector is expected next year. However, together with that we will also get all unresolved problems, including the shortage of workers and the uncertainty about the organization of big projects, BNN was told by the head of Latvian Partnership of Building Contractors Baiba Fromane.

She stresses the construction sector wants answers, especially in regards to answers regarding implementation of Rail Baltica, which will have major influence on construction in the next decade. The new government needs to develop a far-reaching vision and demonstrate strong political leadership and demonstrate the ability to make strategic decisions, Fromane said.

«Considerable progress was accomplished in construction sector in regards to a number of matters in the past three years. This includes reducing the share of grey economy in the sector more rapidly than in the rest of the country and making good progress with approval of the general agreement regarding larger minimal wages than average in the country. The general agreement was signed by more than half of the construction sector. Nevertheless, its future depends on the decision the Saeima will make in January, when it is planned to discuss amendments to the Labour Law. It provides for the agreement regarding reduced overtime pay rate, if the general agreement helps increase minimal wages,» as stated by Latvian Partnership of Building Contractors.

Fromane also reminds Latvia’s construction sector also proved its ability to cooperate in work safety matters this year. «With support from majority of construction companies, a unique training video was shot to be used in employee training, thereby increasing their awareness and understanding of work safety. The video not only explains work safety requirements but also motivates workers to be more attentive at work.»

In the coming years it will be necessary to secure serious political will for the development and approval of amendments to the Construction Law, which have been discussed in the past two years. The current redaction of the Construction Law does not establish clarity for construction process participants’ responsibility. Even the insurance system cannot function successfully to cover all risks and secure quick compensation payment to victims and enforcement of losses from those responsible, construction businesses say.

«One growing problem is the shortage of workers in the sector – for every ten vacancies registered with the State Employment Agency, seven are directly associated with the construction sector. This is why it is necessary to expand Cabinet of Ministers requirements that provide simplified terms for guest workers and specific construction-associated professions. The problem requires long-term solutions. This includes improving the education system in accordance with the industry’s needs,» says Fromane.


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