GCTU COUNCIL CONCERNED OVER CRISIS
15 April 2009
The GCTU Council met in Moscow 10 April 2009 to review the activity of the Confederation in the period since its last
session in April 2008.
Presenting the activity report to participants, GCTU General Secretary Vladimir Scherbakov said: “The unions were among
the first civil organisations to draw the attention of the authorities and the business community to the negative consequences
of the financial and economic crisis for working people. The developments that followed proved that the unions had not
painted it too black when giving their warnings”.
Over the reporting period, much attention was paid to analyzing the experience accumulated in the field of social dialogue,
and the findings show that the traditional forms and methods of dialogue have been put on serious trial. The GCTU
maintained constructive cooperation with interstate bodies of the CIS, the Eurasec, and the Union of Belarus and Russia.
Special emphasis was placed on the situation of migrant workers in Commonwealth countries. Today the problem has
aggravated, and the GCTU will insist on human rights being respected, and take measures to help prevent conflicts.
The Confederation has made remarkable progress in such a priority field as work with young people. Over the period, two
international meetings of young trade union leaders have been held, and the decision was taken to set up a GCTU Youth
The session discussed in detail the impact of the world financial and economic crisis on the situation in CIS countries.
A comprehensive background report on the topic had been prepared by GCTU experts and circulated among participants.
The GCTU and its affiliates, first of all, the national trade union centres, have taken concrete measures to mitigate
the consequences of the crisis for their members and for all workers. They have issued statements and appeals to their
governments, discussed the problem at the sessions of their elected governing bodies, participated in the work of anti-crisis
commissions and groups, organised national and regional actions to protect workers’ socio-economic rights and
The debates were wound up with adopting a Declaration on the Economic and Social Situation in the CIS States and Actions
by Trade Unions in the Context of the World Financial Crisis that gives trade union evaluation of the situation. The document
suggests the main principles of a coordinated policy to be carried out by GCTU affiliates to prevent and eradicate the
adverse consequences of the crisis for workers. They cover a number of spheres, such as the economy, the labour market,
wages and incomes, labour rights, social dialogue, and trade union rights. The text of the Declaration will be submitted to the
leaders of CIS states.
“World trade unions have made it clear, reads the Declaration, that workers are not responsible for the crisis and, therefore,
must not suffer from its consequences”. The unions believe that the reason for the crisis is to be sought in the world system
of economic governance that has evolved over the last few decades, imposed on the human race by the international
financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation, etc.
The Council also considered the criteria for determining the minimum wages, and the attitudes of trade unions to the
problem. Today, trade unions in CIS countries insist that the minimum wage amount should be at least equal
to the subsistence minimum, which provides the main criteria for state guarantees in the field of work remuneration.
The GCTU believes that the present methods of calculating the subsistence minimum in the Commonwealth states need
to be improved, as the consumer goods baskets underlying the subsistence minimum lack a whole number of essential
expenditures incurred by the worker. In particular, they do not make allowance for the cost of accommodation
and the expanding paid services in medicine and education.
The GCTU Council recommended that the member organisation press for updating the contents and cost calculation
of the consumer goods basket to make it satisfy the real needs of workers in foodstuffs, nonfood items and services,
and provide compensation for compulsory payments and charges. The unions will insist that special laws on the subsistence
minimum together with the guidance for its calculation be adopted in those CIS states where they are still being
The session decided to establish a GCTU Youth Council and approved of its Regulations. The tasks and aims
of the Council will include involving broad sections of young workers from CIS countries in GCTU activities, developing
proposals concerning youth policies of the CIS trade union movement, and rendering assistance to the Confederation’s
affiliates in implementing their youth projects and programmes.
As it will be 25 years since the Chernobyl disaster on the 26th of April, 2009, the GCTU Council adopted an appeal to the
heads of government of the CIS states expressing its deep concern over the low pension rates and the tendency towards
cutting down social benefits and indemnities for the “liquidators” and their families, and also for all population
of the contaminated areas. The Council was also worried about the lack of conditions for normal rehabilitation
and recreation of children from the affected zones. The GCTU called on the authorities to pay more attention to tackling
the ecological, health service and socio-economic consequences of Chernobyl, and do their utmost to solve the problems
of social protection of the “liquidators” and all population in the above territories.