Trends and Prospects in 34 Countries
Edited By Craig Phelan
Russian Trade Unions: Stuck in Soviet-Style Subordination? 319
SARAH ASHWIN Russian Trade Unions: Stuck in Soviet-Style Subordination? 1. Introduction Since the collapse of the Soviet system, the evolution of the Russian trade union movement has confounded the early expectations of commentators. The strike waves of 1989 and 1991, which helped bring Boris Yeltsin to power, suggested that the independent workers’ movement might play a decisive role in shaping the course of reform. Meanwhile, given the ‘official’ trade unions’ history of subordination to the Communist Party, it seemed likely that they would collapse along with the system of which they were an integral part. Neither of these scenarios has been realised. The strike wave of 1991, which looked like a promising beginning, instead turned out to be the high point in the influence of the independent workers’ movement. Inde- pendent trade unions have not been able to expand beyond their small base in mining and transport, and now have little more than a token existence. By contrast, the supposedly sclerotic former official trade union national centre, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), managed to survive the storms of the Yeltsin era largely intact. As of January 2005 it had a density of 46 per cent, and had obtained international recognition as a bona fide trade union centre in the form of membership in the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) to which it was admitted in 2000. This chapter focuses on the FNPR to which the overwhelming majority of unionised workers belong. The development of...
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