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Electricity workers take to the streets in Russia

22 November, 2012On 15 November 180 members of the All-Russian Electric Trade Union (ARETU), an IndustriALL affiliate, held a rally in central Moscow, demanding higher wages for electricity workers. The action was supported by two pickets and a press conference.

The activists of ARETU (or ELECTROPROVSOYUZ) came from all over Russia to hold the rally in downtown Moscow, demanding higher wages and a national agreement.

ARETU is in the process of signing a national collective agreement for 2013 with the employers’ association, however, the negotiations are stalled.

The rally adopted a resolution stating:

The managers who account for 10 per cent of the total workforce take 40-50 per cent of the wage budget, and they never forget their own bonuses and premiums. Meanwhile average wages of electricity workers — electricians, electrical fitters, drivers, plant operators — are still very low and stand at US$300-650 per month.

Currently ARETU demands a 25 per cent increase in real wages. The union is also fighting to maintain the national rate system, which keeps employers from expanding workers’ duties without a corresponding raise in wages.

ARETU sent activists to hold one-man pickets in front of the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Economic Development. A one-person picket is the only form of public action which does not require a sanction from the authorities in Russia.

Recently the Russian statistical authority, Rosstat, announced that the average monthly wage in the electricity sector in Russia is 38,000 roubles (1200 USD). Angry workers held banners asking “Rosstat, where are my 38,000 roubles?”

The electricity sector in Russia has been undergoing constant restructuring for at least ten years. Real wages have remained stagnant, some operations were outsourced, and workload rose steadily. ARETU wants to call attention to these persistent issues in the sector.