Russia - Labor



In 2001, the labor force was estimated at 71.3 million. As of that year, 61% worked in the service sector, with 28% in industry and the remaining 11% engaged in agriculture. The unemployment rate was officially 8%, with a considerable number of workers underemployed as well.

A legacy from the Soviet era, the Federation of Independent Russian Trade Unions still dominates organized labor and claims to represent 80% of all workers. The mining and air transport industries (along with the state sector) are highly unionized. Overall, about 54% of the workforce is at least nominally organized, but only 4% of union members belong to independent trade organizations. The legal right to strike is hindered by complex requirements. Court rulings have determined that nonpayment of wages, the most prevalent labor complaint, is an individual issue and cannot be addressed by the union. The right to bargain collectively is not regularly protected.

The monthly minimum wage was $15 in 2001, which was not sufficient to provide a family with a decent standard of living. Most workers earn more than this amount, however it was estimated that 27% of the workforce earned less. Although the labor code provides a maximum regular workweek of 40 hours with a 24-hour rest period, many laborers put in 10 to 12 hour days. The minimum working age (for non-hazardous occupations) is 16, although children as young as 15 may work in apprenticeships. These provisions are effectively enforced through government action and prevailing social norms. The law establishes minimum standards of workplace safety and worker health, but these are not effectively enforced.

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