NIS conference: wages and the role of trade unions

The PERC and the ILO sub-regional office in Moscow, in cooperation with Russian unions, organized a two-day sub-regional NIS conference on Wages setting policies and role of trade unions in Moscow, on 17 and 18 December. 85 trade union leaders and experts from the trade union legal and economic specialists’ networks took part in the conference.

The conference was opened by the PERC and the FNPR President Mikhail Shmakov, the KTR President Boris Kravchenko and Deputy Director of the ACTRAV Anna Biondi. The participants debated the ILO Global wage report and its finding for the Newly Independent States region, the situation of wage setting procedures and the role of the collective bargaining, minimal wage arrangements and studied some interesting trade union experiences from regional, sectoral and company levels.

The ILO instruments related to wages were presented by Patric Belcer and Mariko Ouchi, while Grigor Gradev, PERC Executive secretary, referred to usefulness of the European Social Charter provisions in regards to “fair wages”. Bela Galgoczi from the ETUI presented experiences from Central and Eastern European countries.

The participants expressed concerns regarding growth of "working poor", attacks on trade union rights, noted extreme differentiation between lower paid workers and managers, the decline of the wages share in the national GDPs. In view of the unionists the employers (with consent of the authorities) strive to maximize profits by freezing wages, by refusing negotiate on wage level, by practicing discrimination though engagement of migrant workers for whom they pay less social contributions and of replacing core workforce with agency workers. Only through active solidarity actions, that include industrial actions, the wage increase can be achieved.

The participants also discussed the need to promote ratification and implementation of the ILO conventions in the region, including such instruments as Convention 158 on termination of employment, Convention 94 on labour clauses in public contracts, as well as a set of conventions related to wage policies.

The participants of the conference discussed existing wage formation mechanisms and debated trade union proposals for achieving decent wages for workers of the countries the region in line with the ILO norms and recommendations.

The event was financially supported by the ILO and the LO-TCO secretariat.

O.Sokolov FNPR Minimal wage
A. Moldovanu CNSM
FNPR Gulyako Siberia
FNPR Belyaev Far East
ETUI Galgoczi Rus
ETUI Galgozci En
Estonia Talliga
Ouchi ILO
Belser ILO
Biondi ILO
Yurova Nestle
FPRK Zhumangeldieva