Consolidation of trade unions to improve workers’ protection

21/7 Tass 241

GORKI, July 21 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev had a meeting on Thursday with trade union leaders.

“It has been evident over several years that the authority of trade union organizations and Russian trade unions is not declining, but growing,” he said. He is sure it is due to “the organizational processes in the trade union movement. I mean formation of new trade union organizations, their larger membership.”

“I believe, that these processes of consolidating trade unions should effect protection of workers’ interests, especially in the framework of the system of social partnership between the state, workers and employers,” he said.

Medvedev assured the trade union leaders that the state will continue to use additional resources to improve wellbeing of workers, for example, it tries to “index the wages paid from the budget, but, honestly speaking, this is not enough.” Earlier, the government said it would index wages from the budget from October 1, 2011 by another 6.5 percent, and that the wages fund in the budget will receive additionally 34.5 billion roubles.

Russia’s president hopes that employers will resume social guarantees for employees. During 2010 and the first half of 2011, the Ministry of healthcare and social development received 500 refusals from employers to join the agreements, which regulate social and labour relations at the federal, regional and interregional levels, he said.

It is unacceptable to attract law enforcement authorities to influence trade unions, Medvedev said and promised he would give an order to the Prosecutor General and the Interior Minister to investigate into such cases. “Neither the interior ministry, neither the prosecutors nor any other authorities are entitled to do it (influence on trade unions); there have not been any orders of the kind to anybody,” he said. Medvedev took from the trade union leaders the documents they had on such cases and promised to forward them to the interior minister and the prosecutor general.

The president also highlighted the fact that various trade unions should have equal opportunities for participating in negotiations between employers and state authorities. As of June 1, there are 59 industry agreements in Russia, which have been drawn at the federal level of social partnership. Trade unions, which are not members in Russia’s Federation of Independent Trade Unions /FNPR/, were not allowed to the negotiation process on reaching the federal sector agreement in coal mining for 2010-2012.

Medvedev ordered the government to draft a compromising variant of a document on protection of trade union leaders.

“The government is negotiating, but as yet, they fail to make a version to satisfy everyone, and this work should be continued,” he said and promised the government will consider if it was possible to expand authorities of the labour inspection.

Russia should have a mechanism to protects interests of new categories of employees, who emerge along with the development of modern technologies, Medvedev said. The modern Labour Code does not contain a notion of “distanced working place.” Thus work of employees like web-designers, programmers, administrators of the Internet sites and alike is regulated only orally.

Russia’s further integration in the international economy should be connected with bringing the labour legislation in compliance with the European standards, and foreign companies working in Russia should observe Russian laws, Medvedev said.

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