Press release №687
14.05.2007
TRADE UNIONS AND EMPLOYEES. THE UNREQUITED LOVE?

IN BRIEF

MOSCOWMay, 10, 2007. Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) submits information about how Russians consider the role of trade unions in protection of their labor rights.

Almost 50% of respondents (42% in 2005) said that they do not have any trade unions at their enterprise. However the presence of trade union does not mean it really performs its tasks. Only 8% believe that the trade union greatly influences the protection of their labor rights and really improves employees' conditions, and 34% (40% in 2005) do not find any essential influence of trade union activity on their conditions.

The state employees and administrative authorities make some exception. 17% of those have identified trade union efficiency at their place of work. Students of higher schools (14%) are rather satisfied with work of their student government.

Yet trade unions influence employees conditions insignificantly even at those enterprises where the members of trade unions are employed, as 79% of trade unions members say. And only 16% consider trade unions activity useful.

The majority of trade union nonmembers (71%) cannot join trade union because of the absence of one at their organizations. 15% of those consider membership in trade union useless since trade unions influence employees conditions insignificantly. And only 5% of trade unions nonmembers consider trade union activity important, though they do not join them.

The part of trade union member employees has declined from 34% in 2005 down to 30% in 2007. Mostly members of trade unions are specialists with higher education employed in scientific, educational and cultural organizations (45%), engineers and specialists employed at the enterprises (38%), state employees (38%), and also the qualified industrial and agricultural workers (34%). The part of trade union members among military men and militiamen (12%) and businessmen (9%) is minimal.

One third of trade union members (36%) and half of nonmembers (46%) claim that nobody protects their interests and their labor rights. A quarter (24%) of trade union members identify that they use protection of trade union committees at their enterprises; and only 2% of nonmembers say so. The management of the enterprises is identified as a second place in labor rights protection by members of trade unions (17%), and the heads of departments are identified as one by all the others (13%).

Both categories of employees seldom ask representatives of labor collective and the labor safety state supervising bodies for protection (2-3%). Just as two years ago, 41% of employed Russians identify that. This position can be described as étatisme pattern of labor attitudes. Half as many (21%, 29% in 2005) adhere to liberal market pattern of labor attitudes, e.g. they believe, that an employee should personally settle all labor issues with the employer, and everything should depend upon employee's professional qualities and skills and ability to stand up for his own interests. Every tenth respondent (11%) wishes to give employers the greatest responsibility in providing proper hiring and labor conditions. In their view, the state should provide only minimal guarantees to employees (social liberal pattern of labor relations).

Only 17% of ‘laborites' (13% in 2005) see a unique role of trade unions in mediation between the employee, the state and the employer. In their view, the state should provide only minimal guarantees to employees, and other issues should be solved together by employer and trade union.

Membership in trade union inclines workers to choose the model of labor relations when these relations are defined by the state only. Its followers are the majority (55%) of trade union members and only one third (36%) of those who are not.

Most trade union non members adhere to liberal market model of labor relations when they are regulated via personal arrangements between the employee and the employer (24% against 15%).

A model of labor relations actively regulated by trade unions is equally supported by both trade union members and nonmembers (19% and 17%, accordingly). And the model when state provides only minimal guarantees to employees, and when the rest is completely defined by the employer is supported mostly by trade union nonmembers.

Representatives of the senior generations mostly rely on a role of the state in regulation of labor relations. Thus, the majority of employed retirees (57%) and employees of pre-retirement age (47%) think that relations between the hired employee and the employer should be regulated by the state. Middle-aged generations of working Russians also rely on state in regulation of public relations (38-39%). But there are quite a few ‘laborites' among them. They are those who wish trade unions (22%) acted as a third part in making of a labor contract.

Supporters of liberal model of the labor relations which are based on the direct arrangement between the employee and the employer are mostly young Russians (33%).

The employer should take responsibility for such issues as maintenance of proper working conditions (79%), vacation privileges (59%), labor safety (58%), professional growth of employees (59%), in opinion of the interviewed. The state should solve problems of medical insurance (53%) and providing pensions (63%). Employees themselves are ready to take part in solving the issues of their own professional growth (24%).

Respondents assign trade unions a priority in solving problems of a labor safety (9%), in maintenance of the vacation priveleges (7%), in providing medical and pension insurance (5%), in maintenance of normal working conditions (3%), in providing of professional growth (2%)

All-Russia opinion poll was conducted by VCIOM, April, 21-22, 2007. 1600 respondents were interviewed in 153 population centers of 46 regions of Russia. The statistical error does not exceed 3.4%

Is there a trade union at your enterprise (an organization, an establishment)? If yes, how does it influence employees' conditions? (% of those who are employed)
 20052007
Influences a lot, improves employees' conditions98
There is one, but its influence is insignificant4034
There is no any4250
Difficult to answer98
Are you a member of the trade union at your enterprise? (% of those who are employed)
 2005  2007  
Yes3430
No6468
Difficult to answer22
Who protects interests and the rights of employees for the most part at your enterprise? (Up to two responses;% of those who are employed)
 2005  2007  
Trade union88
Council of labor collective, strike committees43
Enterprise management2223
Elected representative of labor collective43
Heads of departments (chiefs of manufactures, shops, shifts)1617
Labor inspectorate,  supervising bodies24
Other22
Nobody does4142
Difficult to answer77
What kind of relations between the employee and the employer would you prefer? (% of those who are employed)
 2005  2007  
Relations between the employee and the employer are regulated by state only4141
State provides minimal guarantees; everything else is regulated by employer and trade union and forced upon all employees1317
State provides minimal guarantees, everything else is regulated by employer811
Employee settles all issues with employer personally and everything depends upon his professional skills and ability to stand up for own interests.2921
Difficult to answer99
Who mostly protects interests and the rights of employees at your enterprise?
 YesNoTotal
Trade union2418
Council of labor collective, strike committees322
Enterprise management172422
Elected representative of labor collective333
Heads of departments (chiefs of manufactures, shops, shifts)91312
Labor inspectorate,  supervising bodies of233
Other032
Nobody does364642
Difficult to answer566

 

  Results of our study
  Ratings
  In focus
  News