We, Russian information technology workers, are announcing the creation of a professional union. The purpose of the association is the collective protection of our rights and interests.
We unite because we know that many problems, the most important and global problems, cannot be solved alone. You can complain about a negligent employer who has squeezed the required salary, but without competent legal support, without the solidarity of colleagues and broad information support, the chances of success will be close to zero. You can get away from one employer, but you can’t get away from the vicious practices of the entire industry. Finally, you can go to another, more prosperous country, but you need to remember that well-being there is the result of the collective struggle of many generations of workers. There will be no collective, there will be no struggle - well-being will disappear.
Problems in IT
Many people think that everything is fine in our IT, and therefore employees have nothing to fight for. That’s not so. Here is a far from complete list of the problems we are struggling with:
- Unpaid overtime
- Free or low-paid internships
- Gray salaries in small companies
- Abuse of probation period
- Reduction of payment on sick leave
- Forced to resign at will
- Low salaries of teachers in IT
- Low salaries and large bonus parts (which the employer has the right not to pay)
- Monstrous conditions under the NDA. Fines exceed the annual salary of some employees
- Bringing employees to criminal responsibility for unlicensed software used by the employer
- Forced transfer of employees to GPH and sole proprietors
- Violations of the safety regulations of linemen and installers
- Poor working conditions, open spaces
- Projects that violate ethical principles (surveillance systems, censorship, financial fraud)
- Discrimination of employees on the basis of age
- Discrimination against women
Uniting against corporations
Corporations and governments, regulators and aggregators, freelance exchanges and venture funds - they all work as one coherent organism, but they do not represent the interests of IT employees, but the opposite side. They unite in unions and alliances to protect their interests and put pressure on employees, and in order to talk to them on an equal footing, employees need their own, independent association. Professions related to information technology are becoming more widespread, and the strength of associations and trade unions is growing. And we propose a union to achieve the goal, instead of competing in the labor market for a good place.
IT workers are not spherical people in a vacuum. We are part of the economy of the country and the whole world, and it can both help us and hinder us. Individually, we have no chance to stop the bills hitting our interests. But if a trade union unites the majority of industry workers, if it instills solidarity and organization in people, then such a trade union, together with other associations, is able to stop the adoption of harmful laws or force the authorities to adopt the laws that we need.
General strikes, millions of demonstrations in Europe are not just a beautiful picture, it is a method of struggle, the effectiveness of which has been confirmed for more than a century. Even if real, independent trade unions are still few in number in Russia. Let us still be far from the organization that workers in Europe, the USA, Latin America, and sometimes Asia demonstrate. If we don’t start moving in the right direction ourselves, if we don’t take responsibility to be at the forefront of this movement, the situation will continue to deteriorate.
Who are we waiting for
We are not going to fight alone, our union is open to:
- employees of IT specialties
- employees of companies with a high share of IT, radio electronics and telecommunications
- anyone who has an education in the field of computer science and related fields, or is just getting an appropriate education.
Our trade union is a general movement built on democratic principles, all issues are resolved by a majority vote. But they are also performed by everyone. There are no chief in the union, but there are leaders. Joining a trade union implies not only help from comrades, but also a contribution to the common cause.
Information technology unites people around the world with unprecedented ease. But this gift also becomes a curse. Because of the common language of communication, because of the combined infrastructure, capital can quickly flow from one region to another, from richer countries to poorer ones.
This means that it is not enough to raise the salary level only in one company, in one region, in one country. Excessive salary increases will create a risk of customers leaving for cheaper and more compliant performers. Therefore, the trade union should strengthen ties with other trade unions, including abroad, in order to act as a united front.
The struggle for our interests is becoming an international affair and we set ourselves the goal of such an association.
Distortion of the word trade union
There were no private corporations in the Soviet Union, and therefore trade unions performed a purely decorative function. But the Union collapsed, the capital returned, and in the CIS there are still a lot of trade unions working according to the old scheme: distributing vouchers to sanatoriums, gifts for children for the New Year and convincing employees of the correctness of the employer’s decisions. In fact, such “trade unions” become another body of the administration of the enterprise. As a result, in the post-Soviet space, the meaning of the word “trade union” was disfigured beyond recognition and acquired a rather negative character.
We are well aware of this, and we know that the control of the union by anyone other than the workers themselves is a slow death. But external dependence is only half the trouble. The second half is the danger of internal degeneration due to bureaucratization and separation of the leaders of the organization from ordinary members. That’s what many large trade unions in developed countries suffer from.
Our goal is to build an active trade union, not only independent of the state and employers, but also protected from bureaucratization. Therefore, training will be provided for all members of the trade union to help them navigate the management of the trade union and take an active part in its daily work. We will strive for the most possible equality.
The main functions of the trade union
- Coordination of joint actions of IT workers to defend their interests. Planning and running campaigns.
- Legal protection of trade union members in case of conflicts with the employer.
- Opposition to unjustified cuts. The struggle for decent compensation for cuts.
- Maintaining a rating of employers.
- Lobbying the interests of IT workers in the authorities.
- Training in the practice of creating and managing trade unions.
- Education and agitation.
- Assistance in professional development for trade union members.
- Help in finding a job for the dismissed/job seekers.
- Coordination of efforts together with other Russian and foreign trade unions.
- Mutual assistance. Collection of the strike fund and other relief funds.
Russia is the sixth economy in the world by GDP in terms of purchasing power parity, but it is far from being in the top ten in terms of salaries. The former Superpower, which was once at the forefront of progress, is now modestly content with the role of a supplier of brains to developed countries and an integrator of someone else’s hardware into its own fairly shrunken economy.
One of the main reasons for this disparity is the weak labor movement. Atomized employees are engaged in competition with each other, while corporations export huge profits abroad, unlike workers who support the country’s economy with their honest work. Little produced wealth settles in the country, and the less talented and capable people want to stay here.
Therefore, the collective struggle for higher wages and social security is not a momentary selfish process. This is a guarantee that the bulk of the produced values will remain in the country and will work for its further development.
Of course, it’s not just Russia or similar economies like Ukraine or India. The point is in the market mechanisms of competition, which, when left unattended, create distortions and stratifications that have nothing to do with justice.
It is in our interests, in the interests of the entire international trade union movement, to achieve a more equitable and even distribution of income both within countries and around the world.
IT specialists of All Countries, Unite!