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«The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power concentrated in a president and a prime minister, a weak multiparty political ...»

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Independent commentators, on the other hand, noted a significant number of protest actions. The Center for Social and Labor Rights (Moscow) registered 102 protests in the first half of the year, which included 44 protest actions that involved the complete or partial cessation of work. The majority of labor disputes occurred in the manufacturing sector, particularly in machine-building enterprises. In 2009 the primary causes of labor disputes were wage arrears (more than 50 percent), layoffs (21 percent), and company reorganization or closure (18 percent).

The law prohibits reprisals against strikers; however, employers frequently engaged in reprisals, including threats of night shifts, denial of benefits, blacklisting, and termination. Courts may confiscate union property to cover employers' losses in the event that a declared strike continued after it was ruled illegal. Solidarity strikes and strikes on issues related to state policies also are prohibited. The courts have upheld most employers' requests to declare a strike illegal.

In June 2009 approximately 700 employees of the Bogdanovich Porcelain Factory in Sverdlovsk Oblast participated in a spontaneous demonstration in protest of the termination of plant operations resulting from a cutoff of gas supplies. The two leaders of the factory's trade union, who were elected after the demonstration, initiated a counterclaim in the Bogdanovich District Court to combat administrative cases that had been filed against them for the "illegal initiation of a strike." Although the demonstration did not disrupt public order, regional law enforcement forces were brought in just in case. The 99,000 ruble ($3,200) cost of


the militia forces was billed to the trade union leaders. The case was not resolved by year's end.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively The law provides for collective bargaining but favors larger, established unions over newer, smaller unions or professional "craft" unions. Employers were slow to recognize newly formed unions. In addition, they often accepted union requests for collective bargaining reluctantly and failed to provide union representatives with financial reports. In 2009 the FNPR reported that 87 percent of its enterprises had collective bargaining agreements. Some companies tried to use the excuse of financial difficulties to avoid concluding new agreements or disregarded the existing ones in violation of labor legislation norms.

The law prohibits antiunion discrimination, but management continued to harass union leaders and employees at the local level. State agencies with responsibility for overseeing the observance of labor legislation frequently failed to fulfill their responsibilities. Although unions were occasionally successful in courts, in most cases the management of companies that engaged in antiunion activities was not penalized.

On June 15, workers at St. Petersburg Faurecia, a French producer of plastic parts for Ford, Renault, Volkswagen, and other auto manufacturers, formed a union. On the morning of June 18, they notified the management that the union had been established; by the evening of the same day, the union leader, Alexei Lyaushko, was fired. The local union filed a court case for Lyaushko's reinstatement.

Union members at the Progress aircraft plant in Arsenyev complained to the plant's administration that salary levels had not been reviewed in three years. Wages at the plant were lower than the regional average and approximately half that of workers in similar companies. When negotiations with the administration were unsuccessful, the union appealed to the Arsenyev City Court, which denied the trade union's appeal in February. The Primorskiy Kray Court, however, ruled in July that the union was justified in its demand for higher wages in accordance with labor code salary regulations. As a result, the plant's administration had to increase wages according to the appropriate indexation level. According to the union, the raise had to be more than 60 percent. On August 17, the union issued a statement, asserting that its members were "under pressure and discrimination in wage payment, organized by the plant's administration." One worker stated that those


who complained about wages no longer received bonus payments, as had been the case prior to the court case, and that the administration did not allow them to work overtime.

There are no export processing zones.

–  –  –

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor; however, there were reports that such practices occurred. Men, women, and children from Russia are subjected to conditions of forced labor in Russia, including work in the construction industry, in textile shops, and in agriculture, according to the National Foundation for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and UNICEF's Russia Office.

For additional information, see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report at http://www.state.gov/g/tip.

Military personnel have been investigated in the past for the labor exploitation of military conscripts under their command. Men from the Far Eastern part of the country were subjected to conditions of debt bondage and forced labor, including in the agricultural and fishing sectors. Men, women, and children, including those from foreign countries, including Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Moldova, were subjected to conditions of forced labor, including work in the construction industry, in textile shops, and in agriculture.

According to different estimates from BBC News and the Vneshmarket Web site, between 1,500 and 21,000 men and women from North Korea were subjected to conditions of forced labor, specifically in the construction, agriculture, and logging sectors.

The law prohibits forced or bonded labor by children; however, such practices reportedly occurred.

d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment There are laws to protect children from exploitation in the workplace, including laws against compulsory labor; however, authorities did not effectively implement laws and policies that would protect children, nor did the government appear to consider child labor to be a problem. In urban areas the employment of children


occurred primarily in the informal sector--retail services, selling goods on the street, washing cars, and making deliveries. In rural areas children worked in the agriculture sector.

The law prohibits the employment of children under the age of 16 in most cases and regulates the working conditions of children under the age of 18, including prohibiting dangerous nighttime and overtime work. The law permits children, under certain conditions and with the approval of a parent or guardian, to work at the age of 14. Such work must not threaten the child's health or welfare.

The Federal Labor and Employment Service (FLES) is responsible for inspecting enterprises and organizations to identify violations of labor and occupational health standards for minors. Local police only investigated in response to complaints.

FLES reported 10,000 violations of child labor laws in 2008 (the latest statistics available), noting that the victims often received little pay and suffered from unsafe working conditions. FLES noted that most of the abuses it discovered occurred in the industrial, trade, and agricultural sectors. According to FLES, employers paid

1.5 million rubles ($49,600) in fines for violating child labor laws in 2008.

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The legal minimum wage was 4,330 rubles ($143) per month. The minimum wage was not sufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family.

According to official statistics (Federal Statistics Service), in the first three quarters of the year, 13.5 percent of the population (18.9 million persons) had incomes below the minimum subsistence level. This was a decrease from the first three quarters of 2009, when the figure was 14.0 percent of the population or 19.7 million people. The subsistence level set by the government is 5,707 rubles ($195) a month.

In March and April, employees of the Kushva Mechanical Shop Ltd. and Amur Machine Building Plant in Sverdlovsk Oblast filed criminal cases against their employers. Under pressure due to economic instability and significant wage arrears, the management of both enterprises had demanded that employees take out personal loans and lend the borrowed money to their employers "for factory needs." Threatened with dismissal, the employees had complied. To date, the borrowers (employers) have not paid the employees back. Challenged with increasing salary debts and growing bank interest, the employees appealed to the


ombudsman and the general prosecutor of Sverdlovsk Oblast. The conflicts have proven difficult to resolve, however, due to scant factual evidence of employer pressure other than employees' testimony.

In March construction workers on projects related to the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi began a hunger strike to protest unsanitary living conditions and months of unpaid wages. The back wages were paid within two weeks.

In August a group of workers in Kirov conducted a hunger strike to protest poor living conditions in a workers' dormitory run by a tire factory.

In November hundreds of autoworkers in Taganrog went on unregistered strike to protest two months of unpaid wages.

The law provides for a standard workweek of 40 hours with at least one 24-hour rest period and requires premium pay for overtime or work on holidays.

Information was insufficient to determine the extent to which employers observed these standards in practice.

The law establishes minimum conditions for workplace safety and worker health.

The FLES is responsible for enforcement. However, the government did not allocate sufficient resources to enforce these standards effectively. In many cases factory workers did not have adequate protective equipment and clothing, enterprises stored hazardous materials in open areas, emergency exits were locked, and smoking was permitted near flammable substances. The FLES reported that occupational incidents caused more than 3,190 deaths, including those of 278 women and two minors in 2009, and that unsatisfactory working conditions directly or indirectly caused up to 40 percent of all diseases among workers. In 2008 the Health Ministry initiated a two-year program to improve working conditions and worker safety in an attempt to transition from a reactive policy to one of proactive management of hazards to workers' health.

The law gives workers the right to remove themselves from hazardous or lifethreatening work situations without jeopardizing their continued employment;

however, the government did not effectively enforce this right. Many companies employing workers in hazardous conditions awarded bonuses based on worker productivity, which could encourage workers to jeopardize their safety for higher salaries.


In May two explosions caused by the accumulation of methane gas and a concealed underground fire at the Raspadskaya coal mine in Kemerovo Oblast claimed the lives of 68 miners and rescue workers. Poor compliance with safety regulations reportedly led to the explosions. Following the incident, government officials blamed Raspadskaya management for basing wages on output and offering productivity bonuses that encouraged the suppression of methane detection systems. Prosecutors initiated a criminal case against the mine's director on the grounds that he violated safety regulations.

The law entitles foreigners working legally in the country to the same rights and protections as citizens. However, Human Rights Watch noted in a May 2009 report that many employers in the construction sector, in which migrant laborers often worked, did not enforce safety standards, nor did they provide migrant workers with mandatory insurance or medical treatment. For example, press reports during the year cited multiple claims by workers of poor housing and nutrition, as well as long, 13-hour workdays on construction sites associated with the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Vladivostok.

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