Transition to the forced telework - a challenge for trade unions identified by the study on working life with COVID-19 in Latvia

Linda Matisāne (Coresponding Author), Linda Paegle, Ivars Vanadziņš, Sarmīte Rozentāle, Ieva Grīntāle, Iveta Mietule, Jeļena Lonska, Lienīte Litavniece, Iluta Arbidāne

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BACKGROUND: In general, companies with trade unions perform better in occupational health and safety, therefore, we assume that these companies should have performed better in transition to healthy and safe telework if compared with other companies. OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to assess the role of company trade unions on the implementation of telework arrangements in Latvia during the 1st emergency state in spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: A web-based survey based on snowball sampling method and social media advertisements was used to gather information from teleworkers. After data cleaning, answers from 422 teleworkers reporting having (wTU) or not having trade unions (nTU) in their companies were included in the analysis. RESULTS: There was a significantly higher percentage of workers with teleworking experience in companies with no trade unions (37.4% nTU versus 18.1% wTU). More respondents from companies with trade unions reported buying a new computer and headphones which means that more persons had to invest their finances to be able to perform their work. Workers from companies with no trade unions were more often advised on home office ergonomics (21.2% wTU versus 28.1% nTU). The odds of all analyzed health problems (pain, sore eyes, and anxiety) were increased in workers who reported having trade unions. CONCLUSION: Companies with trade unions were less ready for the forced transition to teleworking. These results contradict the traditional understanding of trade unions as a promoting factor for a healthy and safe working environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-537
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2022


  • Distance work
  • work from home
  • worker representation

Field of Science*

  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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