Russia: what is behind the ban on independent trade unions? “Mpra”?

Russia: what is behind the ban on independent trade unions?'mpra'?

Mpra rally: "don’t cry, get organized". Image: mpra

The city court of st. Petersburg accused the union of being a "foreign agent" and "politically active"

On 10. January, the city court of st. Petersburg the "interregional union workers alliance" (mpra). It is the first time in post-soviet russia that a trade union has been banned. The complaint of the public prosecutor’s office was initiated by the lawyer ilya remeslo. He is regarded as a fighter against western influence and has already clashed with opposition politician alexei navalny.

The mpra trade union, founded in 2006, has 2.500 members. It is well established in the car factories founded by western car companies in the early 2000s, ford, volkswagen and peugeot in the leningrad oblast and the kaluga special economic zone south of moscow.

Can a trade union only concern itself with ies of its own industry??

The judge of the municipal court st. Petersburg justifies the ban of mpra with two arguments. On the one hand, the trade union had over the years.000 euros from the geneva-based international trade union federation industriall and thus fall under the law on non-governmental organizations, which are "foreign agent" which the mpra has not done. In addition, mpra is "politically active", which is not provided for in its statute.

Industriall is an international trade union federation with 50 million members in 140 countries. From germany, the ig metall and the mining, chemical and energy industrial union belong to the association.

As for the financial support given to mpra by industriall, mpra head etmanov gives other figures. In an interview with novaya gazeta, the head of mpra explained that his union pays annual membership dues of 1.470 to 3.700 euros to the international umbrella organization in geneva. From industriall, mpra has only paid the equivalent of 5,470 to 3,000 euros in the last two years.147 euros received. The money was spent on training for union members.

The judgement against mpra is delicate, because nine other russian trade unions are members of the international umbrella organization industriall. And these nine unions are not in the odor of radicalism. They are also members of the state-affiliated russian trade union confederation fnpr, which has twenty million members.

The ban of the mpra was also justified with its "political activity", which is not provided for in the statute of the union. The judge in the city court of st. Petersburg objected to the fact that mpra was collecting signatures in support of truck drivers protesting the introduction of a toll on the trunk road. Also objected to was a call against the closure of hospitals in moscow in 2016, as well as a collection of signatures for a legal indexation of wages, which in this way would be linked to the rate of inflation.

Russia: what is behind the ban on independent trade unions?'mpra'?

Mpra head alexey etmanov. Image: mpra

Is the kremlin behind the ban or are they overzealous officials??

The founder of mpra is the 45-year-old welder alexey etmanov. He started in 2003 at the ford plant in vsevolozhsk near st. Petersburg. Petersburg to work as a welder. In 2005, after visiting an international trade union congress of ford workers in brazil, etmanov founded a company union at the ford plant in vsevolozhsk, which then became part of the newly founded umbrella organization interregional trade union workers alliance (mpra) in 2006.

In 2007, mpra made headlines throughout russia. In a 25-day strike at the ford plant in vsevolozhsk, the union won an eleven percent wage increase. In addition, the trade union at the company has implemented a collective agreement that has become a benchmark for trade unions at other automotive plants. With monthly wages of the equivalent of 900 euros, the ford plant is at st. Petersburg in the upper range of wages for russian male and female workers.

In an interview with the st. St. Petersburg radio station fontanka.Ru, mpra head etmanov is asked whether behind the ban on the union is an attempt to create a new "iron curtain" to build. Etmanov replies: "it could be said that someone wants to create order, but we know that it comes from the regions and not from the federal power." whether the ban on mpra was pushed through on the initiative of corporations, he is asked in the interview. Darauf etmanov: "no, the factories don’t care at all. The transnational corporations need us as real partners who keep their promises."

Finally etmanov lets the cat out of the bag. The ban on mpra is "probably" was initiated from the kaluga region. "We have some problems with the governor there".

The author of these lines already reported in 2012 in a reportage "russian governor follows chinese example" oh spoke about the very difficult conditions for the development of trade unions in the kaluga special economic zone initiated by governor anatoly artamanov. In order to discredit mpra, the local television channel nika tv, which is supported by governor artamonov, had in march 2016 published an "disclosure film" published against the mpra. In the film "the mechanics of the union" it is alleged that mpra received money from the american organization usaid. Mpra training courses were financed by the friedrich ebert and rosa luxemburg foundations. At the mpra demonstrations you can also see the red and black flags of the anarchists. The fact that anarchists also light cars was shown in the film with pictures "proves".

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