Labour Union Organizations as a Subject of Civic Participation:
Vologda Oblast Case Study
Cand. Sci. (Hist.), Senior Researcher at Vologda Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vologda, Russia Ukhanova4@rambler.ru
The paper was prepared with the financial support of the Russian Foundation for Basic Researches (RFBR), project No. 19-011-00724.
The article deals with the problem of labour union organizations as a subject of civic participation in Russia. The empirical base of the study is the information obtained during semistandardized interviews with the leadership and members of labour union organizations of the Vologda region, official statistics data, reporting documentation of labour union organizations, all-Russian and regional sociological measurements. The author concludes that crisis trends are clearly seen in the modern labour union movement: a low level of public confidence in the activities of labour unions and a reduction in their social base. The crisis of labour union organizations in Russia has its own specifics compared to foreign countries, which is associated with the institutional conditions for the existence of labour unions in the Soviet period. Due to the restrictions adopted in Russian law, labour union organizations have not become a full-fledged subject of social partnership, they do not have effective tools to protect rights of employees and influence the employer. The author concludes that the labour unions, not being a real opponent of the employer, at the enterprise are rather like an administrative resource for the effective management of the personnel and serving the social and everyday needs of workers. Labour unions’ failure to fulfill their protective function entails negative consequences: low activities of labour unions, formal membership, the reluctance of the population to join labour unions, and the lack of interest of workers in labour union activities. The article shows that, despite the crisis processes, labour unions in Russia have the necessary organizational structure, a large-scale social base. This creates an opportunity for them to become a full-fledged subject of civic participation in the transformation of the social and labour sphere, especially since citizens themselves note the importance of maintaining labour unions but also the necessity to renew them. In this regard, the need for legislative strengthening of the positions of labour unions, as well as the search for new strategies and forms of development of labour union organizations in Russia is obvious.