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Russian chemical workers forced to join yellow union

24 October, 2013In Bashkortostan at JSC Gazprom Neftekhim Salavat (ex Salavatnefteorgsintez) workers are pushed to withdraw from Russian Chemical Workers Union (RCWU), an affiliate of IndustriALL, and join a yellow union created by the administration.

According to the RCWU since last year there are two union organizations operating at the facilities of the company, one is RCWU, representing chemical workers in Russia since a long time, and the other one, is a recently created structure announced as part of a ‘Trade Union No. 1’. The workers at the enterprise say the latter is the project of the administration, which started a full campaign aimed to move workers from their genuine union to the yellow or how they call it “pocket” union.

The workers are now subject to a constant pressure. According to Vladimir Morozov, chairman of the RCWU local, the technical director received a clear order to move all workers of the plant “Monomer”, one of the factories owned by the company, to the management controlled yellow union. Failure to fulfil the order would qualify for “inconsistency with job” and subsequently meaning dismissal. 

RCWU believes the conflict is due to the intent of the management to introduce some unpopular decisions including removal of compensatory payments for harmful working conditions, as well as shift from five to four-team based schedule of work, meaning new redundancies and increased working hours for the remaining workers. RCWU would never agree to the proposal while “yellow” union is certainly easier to manipulate. 

According to the RCWU despite extreme psychological pressure many workers keep on paying their affiliation fees directly to their genuine union, so as to avoid being exposed to the management through the check-off system, their only request is to be anonymous. Vladimir Morozov is denied access to the territory of the enterprise, the financial department does not provide him with any documentation required for operation of the union and stopped accepting all applications of RCWU members for deduction of union dues through check-off system. 

The Federation of Independent Unions of Russia and RCWU addressed to the board of directors of Gazprom, the parent company, informing them of violations of workers’ rights at Gazprom enterprises to freely choose their union. They got a cynical reply stating that according to Gazprom  knowledge, “there was no confirmation of the facts expressed in the letter”, and everything is about a fight for members between two trade unions. 

The investigation of the public prosecutor’s office of the city of Salavat however found evidence of violation of workers’ rights at the enterprise.

IndustriALL is shocked with the arbitrariness happening in Bashkortostan at JSC Gazprom Neftekhim Salavat and sent a letter to Director General of JSC Gazprom Neftekhim Salavat as well as to Deputy chairman of the board of directors of OAO Gazprom demanding proper investigation and correction of the situation in their company. 

JSC Gazprom Neftekhim Salavat is specialized in production and sale of oil refinery, gas and chemical, and monomer products in the Russian Federation.