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FNPR Newsletter. November 25, 2022

25.11.2022
303

November 25, 2022


The economic and social situation in Russia remains stable. Enterprises operate steadily; the number of production cuts and stoppages does not exceed the levels of recent years. By November, the industrial production index increased by 0.4 percent.

As of November 21, annual inflation slowed to 12.3% from 12.4% a week earlier with deflation continuing since June. The level of real monetary incomes of the population compared to last year has decreased by 1.5 percent.

The labour market situation has not changed significantly; the current unemployment rate is at its historic low of 3.8 percent while the number of self-employed citizens continues to grow.

The number of labour conflicts is not growing. No mass protests, major strikes or pickets were registered.

There are no disruptions in the supply of food, fuel or electricity. The heating season has begun in all regions of Russia: in some parts of the country the temperature has dropped below -26˚C.

Agricultural work has been completed; this year's record grain harvest reached 152.2 million tons which is 30 million tons more than last year. Other agricultural crops also showed good results.

In this regard, some explanation is needed on the so-called "grain deal", around which there are so many misconceptions. On 22 July, 2022, as is known, the Russian authorities have agreed to allow Ukraine to trade grain through its Black Sea ports. In exchange, we wanted to be able to freely trade our grain and fertilizers, but the deal turned out to be a fraud.

Firstly, 40 percent of the 10 million tons of grain transported by Ukraine along that corridor was sent to the EU, and not to the poorest countries. 70 Ukrainian vessels used the corridor for smuggling purposes. Besides, on October 8 a terrorist attack was launched on the Crimean Bridge, again using the Ukrainian Black Sea grain corridor. On October 27, unmanned naval drones attacked the Bay of Sevastopol where Russian ships protecting the grain corridor, as well as various civilian enterprises, are located. And again, the waterway for the transportation of Ukrainian grain was used for the attack.

Secondly, due to the sanctions — blocking of bank accounts, ban on the insurance of Russian cargo and the denial of service to Russian ships in European ports — 260 thousand tons of Russian fertilizers were blocked on the territory of European countries. Despite repeated offers from Russia to remove the fertilizers and distribute them free of charge to the poorest countries, the Dutch, Belgian and Estonian authorities prevented this for more than six months.

Russian fertilizer manufacturing companies which employ members of the Russian Chemical industry workers' union have suffered significant losses. Only by mid-November and with the UN assistance, Russian companies were able to agree to begin taking out the fertilizers to be transferred to recipients free of charge. And Russia has just announced its readiness to increase fertilizer exports.

The systematic failure of the Ukrainian side to fulfil the terms of the grain deal led to its early termination. Only after Russia's decisive actions, with the active participation of Turkey, the Ukrainian authorities assumed additional written obligations not to violate the terms of the grain deal, and it was resumed on November 19.

Russian trade unions continue to work actively to protect the interests of their membership. In conjunction with the World Day for Decent Work on October 7, solidarity actions which gathered about 1.2 million people were held across the country focusing on effective collective bargaining and industry agreements, ensuring decent level of wages and safe working conditions.

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, as is known, has suspended its membership in the ITUC. The reason for such a move was a number of unfounded false accusations against the FNPR by the trade union centres of Ukraine and a number of other European countries, as well as biased and prejudiced approach of the ITUC itself. On April 7, 2022, The FNPR sent a letter to the ITUC leadership stating, inter alia, that:

"... the civil war in Ukraine began in 2014 having led to the blockade and numerous civilian casualties in the south-east of the country. The FNPR, just like the leadership of Russia, relied on the Minsk Agreements signed by the European guarantor countries and recognizing Ukraine as a unified state, which ruled out the possibility of Russian trade unions' participation in solving acute socio-economic problems of workers living there.

Regrettably, in all those years the Ukrainian trade unions never raised the issues of peaceful settlement of the conflict, protection of labour and humanitarian rights of their own membership in the south-eastern territories, but only supported the actions of their authorities. In this regard, it would be perfectly appropriate to bring up the matter of violation of the fundamental principles and statutory provisions of the ITUC Constitution by the Ukrainian trade unions themselves..."

And further: "...the biggest problem right now is that the war continues largely due to external material support and continued supply of weapons and military equipment to the Ukrainian nationalist armed units. In these conditions, the war can engulf the whole of Europe, and it is in our collective interest to prevent further escalation of the conflict..."

At the same time, the FNPR maintains the position that, as and when the existing contradictions are resolved, it would be possible to reinstate its full membership in the ITUC.

The FNPR has consistently condemned the military solution to the conflict. So, for example, on April 12 a nationwide trade union motor rally, held under the banner of a world without Nazism, brought together over 50 thousand trade union activists in 8,500 cars in 75 regions of Russia. The trade union initiative was widely supported by local authorities.

Russian society has never acted with aggressive intentions, but our historical memory does not allow us to remain indifferent when rabid nationalism and Nazism rears its ugly head in a neighbouring country closely connected with us by common history, shared culture, multiple family and human relationships.

The purposeful extermination by the Ukrainian regime of their own citizens in Donbass has led to the mass exodus of residents of those regions to the territory of Russia. As of November 21, over 4.8 million people, including 714 thousand children, have crossed the Russian border since February 24.

The continued shelling and acts of terror directed against innocent people by the Ukrainian armed forces have led to tens of thousands of civilian casualties. This has forced our country to take measures to protect Russian citizens living in Ukraine and to ensure its neutral status through denazification of the country and demilitarisation of its economy.

This and many other matters were raised during the Valdai International Discussion Club[1] held on October 24-27. President Putin took a traditional part in it and delivered a speech that largely explains Russia's past, current and future steps, both domestically and internationally. The English transcript of his speech and the Q&A session that followed is available at the link

https://eng.globalaffairs.ru/articles/vladimir-putin-valdai-club-2022 /

Opinion polls continue to show a high level of support for the Russian Government and President Putin. Thus, as of mid-November, the largest sociological organisation in Russia, the Public Opinion Foundation, published survey data according to which 50 percent of respondents positively assessed the work of the Government, 77 percent positively assess President Putin's performance and 76 percent trust him.

According to VCIOM (Russian Public Opinion Research Centre), another leading sociological service, by mid-November 2022, 73.7 percent of respondents approved of Vladimir Putin's performance, 78 percent trusted him, and 49 percent positively assessed the work of the Government.

In conclusion, it should be noted that many experts in Russia and Europe have come to the conclusion that Europe’s economic prosperity was built on relatively inexpensive resources (gas, oil, coal, fertilizers) supplied from Russia under long-term contracts.

The destruction of long-term relations with Russia has led to an energy crisis in Europe and may soon lead to deindustrialisation, as is already the case in the Baltic States, which after the collapse of the Soviet Union returned to a predominantly agrarian structure of their economies.



[1] The Valdai International Discussion Club is a Russian think tank established in 2004. In addition to Russian participants, over the years of the club's existence, more than 1,000 representatives of the international scientific community from 85 countries of the world took part in its work.


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