Russian trade unions managed to convince deputies of the State Duma and the Ministry of Labor not to rewrite one of the most important sections of the Labor Code (TC), which regulates safe working conditions. Yesterday, the relevant State Duma committee approved amendments to the second reading of the new version of section 10 of the Labor Code (Labor Protection), which will allow, as now, not to take into account the personal protective equipment provided to the employee when assessing the hazard and hazard of the workplace. Otherwise, according to the trade unions, workers could be deprived of payments and benefits for harm.
Yesterday, the State Duma Committee on Labor, Social Policy and Veterans Affairs approved amendments to the second reading of the bill of the Ministry of Labor, which amends section 10 of the Labor Code on labor protection. Recall that the department, together with trade unions and employers, has been working on the bill for several years, trying to introduce more modern approaches to labor protection and prevention of injuries at work. Thus, the new edition of Section 10 assumes a change in the concept of labor protection – now the emphasis will be on preventive measures, as well as a more careful assessment of the employee’s condition. For this, for example, the document introduces the concept of “microtrauma” (soft tissue bruises and superficial wounds that an employee could have received during work), which will allow them to be taken into account in order to prevent more serious injuries (for more details, see Kommersant, January 21).
At the beginning of this year, a new version of section 10 of the Labor Code was submitted to the State Duma and considered in the first reading, however, both employers and trade unions did not hide the fact that there are controversial issues in the document, which they hope to resolve by the second reading. So, the greatest discontent of the trade unions was caused by the proposal of the Ministry of Labor to rewrite Art. 209 of the Labor Code – it contains the basic concepts related to labor protection. So, according to the new wording of the department, under safe working conditions, the impact on the employee of harmful and (or) hazardous production factors is excluded or minimized with the help of personal protective equipment. However, such a determination, in the opinion of Aleksey Bezyukov, Deputy Chief Technical Inspector of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, could allow employers in the future to deny workers payments and benefits for harm, arguing that they were provided with remedies that completely neutralize the harmful effects.
The Mining and Metallurgical Trade Union of Russia, a member of the FNPR, protested the loudest against the new edition – its members criticized the amendments in a video that received a million views on YouTube, and held a rally outside the State Duma building, transmitting 500 appeals from metallurgists to United Russia deputies.
The head of the labor committee, Yaroslav Nilov, began yesterday’s meeting by inviting its participants to watch this video and noting that the proposal of metallurgists should be considered. Employers, in turn, criticized the position of the union, pointing to large-scale investments in improving working conditions. “Over the past ten years, ferrous metallurgy companies have invested about 2 billion rubles in upgrading their equipment for the safety of their employees. This film is just a provocation, ”said Alexei Okunkov, director of the All-Russian industrial association of employers“ Association of Industrialists of the Mining and Metallurgical Complex of Russia ”. However, the committee decided to satisfy the demand of the trade union and decided to remove the amendment to Art. 209 to second reading. “This amendment was one of the most important negative innovations of the new version of the TC, and the rejection of it is certainly a great achievement,” notes Alexey Bezyukov.
However, despite the “success” of one industry association, the demands of the other – the seafarers’ trade union – on the harmonization of the Russian Labor Code with international law were not heard by the legislators. “The Ministry of Labor has not agreed on the amendments we need to the new version of the Labor Code, promising to introduce them as a separate document only when the current one is adopted,” said Igor Kovalchuk, head of the executive committee of the Confederation of Labor.
Domna distanced itself from the office
In support of the demands of the trade unions, an activist of the mining and metallurgical trade union of Russia (GMPR) Vadim Kacheikin on Tuesday held a single action near the building of the State Duma. In a working suit and a helmet, he handed a box with metallurgists’ appeals to the deputies of United Russia Tatyana Saprykina and Andrei Vetluzhskikh (they declared their support for the GMPR’s protests against the changes in the Labor Code). The box contained 500 requests from metallurgists mainly from the Chelyabinsk region, Vladimir Revenok, deputy chairman of the Chelyabinsk regional committee of the GMPR, told Kommersant that there are much more requests, and these are only those that fit into the plane’s hand luggage. “Each appeal contains the thesis that there should be no amendments to the Labor Code regarding the tenth section,” explained Mr. Revenok.
GMPR employs about 600 thousand people, including students of specialized educational institutions and retirees of the industrial sector. Since May 1, trade union activists from the Chelyabinsk region have been holding a protest rally “Almost like in an office”, posting photo and video messages on the network from production workshops. According to members of the GMPR, the revised edition of the tenth section of the Labor Code yesterday could, if personal protective equipment (PPE) were available, “deprive workers of additional guarantees and compensations due for“ harmfulness ”.” “This is wrong: the safety of working conditions should be determined by a combination of harmful and dangerous factors, and not by the availability of PPE,” the GMPR stated. Also, metallurgists feared that additional payments “for harm” after the adoption of the amendments will be canceled, and workers “will be forced to buy PPE on their own”, after which they will have to seek compensation for damage “in court.”