Jun 26, 2021
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Is the union a plus?

Is the union a plus?

Photo: Alexander Demyanchuk / TASS

In the context of a worsening economic situation, business owners are increasingly “letting go” part of the staff. And most willingly get rid of the leaders of the trade union cells, if any. So, recently, media attention was drawn to the story in Nizhny Tagil, where the leadership of the medical institution fired the head of the primary association of ambulance drivers Mikhail Smolnikov

It is no secret that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the relations between trade union leaders and enterprise administrations changed radically – from allies they turned into irreconcilable opponents. In Serpent-Gorynycha about two heads in conflict with each other. And even the “reincarnation” of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions in the FNPR did not change anything – this largest association of hired workers does not so often lend its shoulders to the wards, for which it is mercilessly criticized. Although at first she had the prerequisites to become a truly military formation.

In the 1990s, negotiations between representatives of the Yeltsin team and the FNPR frankly infuriated the liberal team. As well as numerous protests, including the spring and autumn “offensive of the working people”. The Kremlin’s patience ran out when in October 1993, in the unfolding confrontation, the federation supported the Supreme Council. Then the trade unions decided to “put in place”, they froze their accounts and forced to change the leadership – instead of Igor Klochkov came prone to compromise Mikhail Shmakov, under his “leadership” the organization already in November 1993 announced its refusal to confront the government.

But the holy place was not empty for long – soon new professional structures began to appear, setting as their goal (or at least proclaiming) the struggle for the interests of the worker. One of these is Sotsprof, which emerged back in 1989 to the accompaniment of print criticism of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions and promised on oath that it would give battle to the “party apparatchiks”, that the “Soviet Rafferties” would really fight for the masses, and not wipe their pants in offices. Sotsprof organized demonstrations, mediated in negotiations with directors – did everything to get under the “perestroika” spotlight.

In 2008, Sotsprof was headed by such a character as Sergey Vostretsov, “Famous” in the State Duma (as a member of the “United Russia” faction, of course) support of pension reform, proposals to impose taxes on housewives, reduce the age of criminal prosecution to 12 years and other “glorious deeds.” Even the secretary of the General Council of the United Russia Party got mad at his art. Turchak, who expressed the hope that “the current convocation of the State Duma is the last for Vostretsov.”

At one time, negotiations were under way for Sotsprof to join the Confederation of Labor of Russia (KTR), an association of sectoral trade union organizations, which eventually grew to the second largest of its kind in Russia. Today there are more than 20 organizations (transport workers, air traffic controllers, seafarers, food service workers, teachers, doctors, etc.) with a total number of 2 million people.

For an employee today, this structure is the only form of protection and assertion of his rights in case of conflict situations with the employer, – notes the president of the KTR Boris Kravchenko… – Membership in a trade union does not carry any risks – under Russian law, obstruction of trade union activities is prohibited “

However, the members of the trade union associations of the KTR are by no means protected from arbitrariness. So, in May of this year in St. Petersburg school number 294, a teacher was fired – the head of the primary organization of the trade union “Teacher” Natalia Sokolova… At present, the activists of the association are urging to send letters in her defense to the director of the educational institution. In August 2020, the chairman of the primary organization of the “Trade Union of Moscow Metro Workers” was dismissed under the article, the machinist Pavel Shelobanov, however, recently there was a court decision on his reinstatement at work.

Last year, strikes by workers delivering food and other goods in Moscow drew widespread resonance, which led to the creation of the Kurier trade union. In March this year, on its basis, an association “Platform of Solidarity” was created, uniting the so-called. precariat – workers with temporary or part-time employment and, as a result, quite young. According to the activist Ildara NigamatovaSome of the Platform’s members are already being persecuted.

Trade unions do not always strive for “big politics”. For example, the already mentioned Boris Kravchenko said that in the KTR “There is no link to traditional political parties”, and in their ranks “consist of people of different beliefs“.

However, there is another point of view. Activist of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party (WRP) Ivan Antokhin spoke about close cooperation with the trade union “Unity”, which includes workers in the automotive industry. According to him, the organization of politics, which has existed since 1990, is not afraid, makes contact with the left forces and even organized rallies at which political demands were heard.

The trade union struggle itself is already a manifestation of politicization, – I am convinced Ildar Nigamatov… – If a trade union declares its isolation from politics, it means that it will follow a course opposite to the real interests of the majority, and is doomed to serve someone else’s selfish interests.“.

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