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Union slams hauliers for using war to lobby for return of cash salary payments

The Lithuanian Carrier's Trade Union has slammed Linava, Lithuania's haulage association, for using the circumstances related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine to demand that drivers once again be allowed to receive their salaries in cash. Linava argues that many truckers from war and sanctions-affected countries need easy access to cash, but the Lithuanian Carrier's Trade Union feels the argument is merely an excuse to allow rogue hauliers to cheat and illegally underpay 3rd-country drivers.

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According to Linava, Ukrainian lorry drivers in Lithuania are experiencing difficulties withdrawing cash from the country’s ATMs. The haulage association claims that some of these drivers are even asking their employer to pay cash salaries as a result of these difficulties. This is of course now impossible, as lorry drivers’ salaries must be paid electronically.

Therefore, Linava wants the law to be changed as soon as possible, at least on a temporary basis. It argues that the change is required so that Ukrainian workers do not become victims. It also claims that Russian and Belarusian drivers have run into problems withdrawing cash, while truckers from Kazakhstan suffered from the same issue back in January.

According to Zenonas Buivydas, Secretary General of the Linava, approximately 30,000 people work in Lithuanian transport companies as long-distance drivers. He adds that many of them are truckers from Eastern Europe who have had troubles withdrawing cash due to their accounts being limited or blocked.

“The transport sector employs foreign nationals with work visas, many of whom have accounts with foreign banks. It is these people who are facing problems in not being able to cash in their pay, as the sanctions imposed have limited financial flows. Then they ask their employers to pay in cash, and they are forced to break the law to help workers from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus,” says Buivydas.

As a Kaunas-based daily newspaper reports, the Bank of Lithuania has banned all Belarusian and Russian citizens from opening accounts. New cards are not being issued, while and existing ones are being blocked.

“A large proportion of drivers in transport companies are citizens of these countries [Russia and Belarus]. Foreigners who have a residence permit in Lithuania have fewer problems, but there are fewer of them compared to those with work visas. For example, today a member of the association shared information that drivers working for the company who have work visas cannot withdraw money from Peysera’s Revolut accounts, so they asked for payment in cash and want to continue working, ” says the Linava Secretary General.

Andrius Burba, Linava’s Secretary of Innovation and Transport Policy, believes that some drivers are being discriminated against. He says the state must help them and allow them to work in Lithuanian companies without “complicating their activities and opportunities to use honestly earned money.” Burba adds that drivers from Kazakhstan suffered issues back in January when civil unrest saw banking systems disrupted in the country.

However, the Lithuanian Carrier’s Union is evidently unimpressed by Linava’s call for cash payments to be scrapped, calling the move “shameful” on Facebook.

“Linava has quickly forgotten why the law on the transfer of salary allowance was adopted. A reminder that it was adopted because of dishonest employers who manipulated the cash registers to rob workers and boost the state’s shadow economy,” says the union.

According to the Lithuanian Carrier’s Union, Ukrainian drivers have said that they have no problem taking cash out, while at least one bank in Lithuania is allowing Ukrainians to open free accounts.

“We will not allow greedy employers to use the situation in Ukraine. There are other ways to help Ukrainian drivers, and there is no need to change the law,” the union maintains.

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