Addressing workers' concerns with unions in Russia

Electricity trade union Russian Federation, 4 April 2018 Moscow

EPSU General Secretary, Galina Shpilkina IS, Valery Vakhrushkin and vice-president Yury Ofitserov - Electricity trade union Russian Federation, 4 April 2018 Moscow

(9 April 2018) Meeting the EPSU Russian affiliates, and together reflecting on the tensions between the EU, US and Russia, the EPSU General Secretary stressed the importance of focusing on our common issues and interests as workers and trade unions, 4 April Moscow.  Sabre-rattling language and posturing do not make our world a safer place. In wide-ranging discussions with the health workers' union, the local public services (municipal) union and the electricity union, we addressed workers' concerns and the development of the union movement. Many unions in Russia are losing members. The health workers' union has set up a broad ranging project focused on young workers. It is delivering growth of membership and can be an example to others. The unions maintain close relations with the Central-Asian and other unions in the region.

The re-election of Vladimir Putin as Russian president and his pledge for more funding for health and social services could assist in creating more jobs for nurses and doctors. Other issues concern the salary structure, the reforms of health care services and health and safety. As in many other European countries staff shortages are increasing. Russia faces the challenges of illegal waste dumping and corruption as rules for public contracts are often violated. Many migrant workers are employed in the sector. The municipal union is fighting against the privatisation of water as the government is seeking to make widespread use of concessions. As in other countries issues of price, quality, respect for collective agreements are key issues. New owners seek to exclude the union from negotiations and dialogue.

Despite climate change sceptism, Russia has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by signing the Paris agreement (2015). It has not yet ratified it.  The proposals on how to do this will impact on workers. The recent agreement between Eurelectric, the European employers' organisation in electricity, and the unions on just transition was of interest to the Russian electricity union as it commences bargaining for a new collective agreement. Other issues include pay, taking account of regional differences and dealing with high pay of senior management in the company.

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