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Mihael Delyagin: Federation of Independent Trade Unions Very Often At on the Side of the Employer, Not Employee

Mihael Delyagin: Federation of Independent Trade Unions Very Often At on the Side of the Employer, Not Employee
nna Ivanova 28.12.2013

- You often write that migration of "hardworking compatriots" makes threat for the Russian labor market. What kind of threat you mean?

- Mass import of guest workers made Russia slaveholding country. Sincerely or forcedly sympathizing with lawlessness of migrants citizens of the Russian Federation have "the Russian illness": they feel sympathy for distant, forgetting about neighbor and about himself because in fat we also don’t have real labor rights. It proves "phenomenon of working poverty": there’s mass of the Russians earning obviously not enough for normal life and frequently for simple living. It proves "phenomenon of gray salaries": if Russia turned into tax paradise for billionaires, tax burden for poor is extremely high — more than 39% of salary budget (taking into account obligatory soial payments). As a result millions of people are compelled to work illegally, that is they are deprived of civil rights. It proves "phenomenon of hunger strikes": the Labor Code complicates holding of strikes to such an extent that to hold them you need to get... permission of the employer, while it doesn't forbid to cripple oneself.

- But if there is a problem, someone is guilty in it, isn't it?

- Lawlessness of workers seems to me the result of not only government actions, but also of non-performance of the direct duties by the management of the largest structure called to protect them — Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia. The trade-union leader, the member of "Fair Russia" Oleg Shein specifies: "When all most anti-labor laws are adopted, they are accepted thanks to FITU". In his opinion, exactly thanks to the head of FITU Mikhail Shmakov the Labour Code which deprived labor unions of opportunity to resist to mass dismissals was adopted in 2001. FITU supported monetization of social benefits which caused mass protests. It didn't stop deprivation of members of trade unions of privileges, including free rest in sanatoria and destruction of "understandable" tariffing of salaries of state employees in 2008.

Recently FITU demanded to forbid ageny work (employment of workers via intermediary, when employer receives result of the work, but has no obligations before employee paying off via intermediary). The bill is however made in suh way that key elements of this, in fact, slavish system (compared by Shmakov with prostitution) isn’t onsidered to be ageny work. As a result "ban" more reminds legalization.

- So whose interests does FITU protect?

- As far as it’s possible to judge from open sources, FITU very often ats on the side of employers, not workers. Thus newspaper “Argumenty Nedeli” gave scandalous example when representatives of FITU protected management of tram and trolleybus management of Astrakhan from its collective fighting for growth of salaries and change of the working schedule in the ourt. The chairman of Interregional Trade Union of workers of automotive industry Etmanov recognized that he "faced treachery from the part of a number of functionaries of FITU". The president of one of the largest in Russia recruitment agencies Headhunter Yury Virovets noted: "FITU … doesn't carry out its functions on protection of the rights of citizens and, on the contrary, is a body at the government which task is just to suppress strikes and to try … to extinguish … independent trade-union movement receiving real estate and other gifts from the government for it".

- After all trade unions entering FITU sooner or later may be under pressure of their members have to get indignant with such practice?

- The structure of FITU is arranged so that recognizing formally the right to leave of trade unions entering it its charter rigidly fixes: "Before approval by the governing body … … of the deision to leave Federation…. trade union is obliged to arry out … Charter". The term of the approval of this decision isn’t stipulated in the charter and "consideration" of the desire to leave FITU (which an last 3 months) doesn't mean its "approval". That is trade unions entering FITU pratially an’t leave association, having kept its structure and property, they an only get dissolved and create new trade union. Such situation reminds serfdom though representatives of FITU with persistence, worthy of fight for the rights of workers, challenge similar metaphors in courts.

- That is FITU not really worries about public opinion?

- Morals of FITU were reently bared by scandal with partiipation of one of its heads, the party member of “United Russia”, the deputy of the State Duma Andrey Isayev whose assistant (with at least his connivance) arranged uproar in the plane, having strongly detained departure. Despite its reputation "United Russia" acted as it should: its representatives declared the need of investigation of scandal and Isayev suspended membership in its management. While the department of public relations of FITU declared... about "rough provocation" against Isayev, having straight off laid blame from his assistant (who, according to the official statement, "was not more drunken, than many other passengers") to "Aeroflot". That is things which are doubtful even for the management of "United Russia” are almost valor for bonzes of FITU?

- Do you really mean that they behave in such way?

- One shouldn’t accuse FITU in inaction and uproars unfounded. According to the open data opened published in mass media, membership dues make only from 6% to 30% of the budget of the organization. Generally it lives due to exploitation and sale of property of the Soviet trade unions (which is estimated in 100 billion dollars and even more), representing in fact powerful corporation. Its central office (if to trust Yandex where "one an find everything") is large business center. Tens commercial organizations, including bank, model agency and ompany with the interesting name "DiplomVam" are located there. By the way, this organization also hallenge in ourt publi statements about one-and-a-half-year work of illegal bank in the central building of FITU. Of course they fight not with Investigation Committee, but with those... who quoted it.

Improbable activity in ourts in general — up to challenge of statements of own management as "untrue and discrediting reputation of FITU" and repeated submission of the claim for the same facts - important part of its work. Among other things FITU challenges in ourts statement of own charter (for example, the one given above). I have doubts that such eagerness reminding professional barratry is caused by hypertrophied thirst of justice. After all then reputation of FITU would be different.

It isn't excluded that permanent judicial activity of FITU is urged to distract attention from delicate sides of its activity, in particular, from disposing of the Soviet property. On October, 27, 2008 Federal Arbitration Court across the Northwest federal district considering one of scandalous property affairs specified that "property is transferred to the trade-union organizations not to the ownership, but to maintenance. As the General Confederation of Trade Unions of the USSR didn’t get property right to … objects, the contract of 17.07.1992 about settling the right on possession, usage and ownership of trade-union property isn't the document establishing the property right". As there’s no practice of unwritten law in Russia, the destiny of many objects, let’s say, is quite foggy.

- You want to say that FITU is a remnant of former times which "exceeded its allotted time"?

- FITU makes impression not so remnant of the Soviet Union, but of nomenclature which ruined it uniting features of mossy party eonomial nomenlature and "wild capitalism". It’s somehow even awkward to speak about "rights of workers" looking at it.

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From editorial board: Instead of final words we will ite data of our poll.

Towards "extra" session of trade unions: what do you think about Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia?:

It’s real and effetive protetor of rights of working people (3)

It’s organization whih tries to protet the rights of working people, but do it not very effetively (6)

It’s sineure for bureurats who live "sweet life" (138)

It’s instrument for plundering of property one transferred to the Soviet trade unions (99)

It’s instrument of betrayal of interests of working people (486)

Something else (1)

Don’t know (7)

Never heard about such organization (48)

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