President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Shmakov,
The situation is complicated on the one hand, but at the same time, fortunately, there are no catastrophes. We have our difficulties and are overcoming them well, or satisfactorily. Nevertheless, I know that the trade unions always have issues with both the employers and the state. Let us consider them today.
Chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia Mikhail Shmakov: We are of course just as interested in economic success and a growing economy as the entire state, as the President and the Government are. However, today, given the conditions our economy is in, conditions that include, by the way, a decline in the effective demand of the population, the workers, it is very difficult to develop small and medium-sized businesses. Actually, this is where a certain ban, a barrier to the development of small and medium-sized businesses is, if there is no effective demand. Therefore, we suggest taking into account a number of factors when developing the current anti-crisis programme.
Naturally, we never forget about the minimum wage. Unfortunately, of late, in the past couple of years, it only went down compared to the cost of living. We suggest taking this into account in the new anti-crisis programme. Obviously, this cannot happen overnight and not by 100 percent right away, but there should be a roadmap of sorts showing how we intend to increase it.
Secondly, there are a number of matters now dealing with unemployment, which is unfortunately growing. It is growing slowly, but this concerns qualified workers as well now because a number of production facilities are closing down. Our maximum unemployment benefit is very low – half the cost of living. We are certain and we hope that this period would be over, and highly skilled workers will again be in demand. However, now, to survive the hard times, we need to raise the maximum level of unemployment benefit so that skilled workers receive the necessary support, so they do not lose their qualification.
To be continued