In addition, Dmitry Medvedev said that the use of law enforcement agencies as an instrument of pressure on trade unions was inadmissible (the trade union leaders submitted documents on such incidents to the head of state). The President said that he would issue instructions to Prosecutor General and Interior Minister to investigate these cases.
Dmitry Medvedev also instructed the Government to consider extending the powers of the labour inspection.
The meeting was attended by leaders of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, Association of Trade Unions of Russia SOTSPROF, the Union of Trade Unions of Russia, the Confederation of Labour of Russia and the Federation of Democratic Trade Unions of the Mining and Metals Industry of Russia, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: This is our first meeting in such an expanded format, which will undoubtedly be useful. It has become clear in recent years that the standing of union organisations and the Russian trade unions as a whole has not diminished but has improved, and rightly so.
”The consistent improvement in the welfare of all workers’ standard of living must remain a priority both for the state and for employers; therefore, we will continue to search for additional sources of funding for these purposes.“
In my opinion, this is connected with the organisational processes currently underway in the trade union movement. I mean the emergence of new trade unions and their integration. Another such organisation was established not so long ago on the basis of the Confederation of Labour of Russia.
I believe that consolidation processes of the trade union movement should have a positive impact on protecting workers’ interests, particularly within the social partnership system, which we will discuss today, the partnership between the Government, employers and employees. I propose that we talk about ways to develop this partnership.
A few words to start us off: I will not try to identify all the issues you would like to raise. The first subject which is natural for trade unions and the entire country, is improving workers financial standing. We try to index wages, especially for the public sector employees, but to be honest, that is not enough.
The state is forced to proceed on the basis of the current economic reality. Our reality, and I want to emphasise it, is not the worst: just look what is happening all around us. However, we cannot do the impossible.
On the other hand, the consistent improvement in the welfare of all workers’ standard of living must remain a priority both for the state and for employers; therefore, we will continue to search for additional sources of funding for these purposes.
Second, I would like us to dwell on the matter of social guarantees. During the global financial crisis, many employers refused to join the agreements that regulate social and labour relations.
As far as I know, in 2010 and in the first six months of this year, the Healthcare and Social Development Ministry received nearly 500 refusals from employers to join the agreements that regulate social and labour relations at the federal, regional and interregional levels.
Now that the situation in the Russian economy has improved, workers’ social benefits can easily be restored. I hope that this will happen in the nearest future.
Another point that causes concern among those present is the possible impact in terms of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation on workers’ social status. There is concern that large multinational corporations that will come to Russia will ignore the national labour legislation. I can promise you that we will not allow that; that would be absolutely impossible. However, it is a process that we must keep an eye on.
”Russia has ratified the European Social Charter, which requires that we bring our legislation in the sphere of social policy in conformity with this Charter and European standards. The process of integration into the global legal framework should enhance the security of Russian people, not weaken it.“
All foreign companies will work in Russia only if they fully comply with our labour laws. Incidentally, in terms of compliance with laws, I believe that foreign companies often behave better than ours. They are used to complying with labour laws, the legislation on trade unions and the entire range of social and employment legislation.
Russia has ratified the European Social Charter, which requires that we bring our legislation in the sphere of social policy in conformity with this Charter and European standards. Naturally, we will do it. The process of integration into the global legal framework should enhance the security of Russian people, not weaken it. I am confident that Russian trade unions will actively promote it.
In 2010, Russia ratified four conventions of the International Labour Organisation. We agreed that this process will continue. Currently we are planning to submit to the Government 15 various conventions that are of particular importance, and we will talk about it later.
The fourth subject is creating the necessary conditions for the workers to defend their rights regardless of their sphere of employment or membership in labour organisations, equal opportunities for all trade unions to engage in negotiations with employers, their associations, and if necessary, with state agencies at various levels. There is nothing special about this situation and we must do everything to make certain that this scheme design works and is based on the necessary legal documents.
A separate task is to establish a protection mechanism for new categories of workers that have emerged as a result of new technologies. We have more and more such employees. I mean those who have flexible work schedules and those who work remotely through the use of computer technology.
The current Labour Code does not contain any forms of work organisation in this area, and such people are in fact excluded from the social partnership system. Consequently, they do not have guaranteed social protection. This is very unfortunate. Maybe some of them do not realise it yet, but if you talk about these people’s future it is certain to be unacceptable to them and, therefore, it must also be unacceptable for the Government. This situation must be rectified.