Alliance of Workers Unions of Russia 'Defense of Labor'

Translated by sabocat, 17 February 2001

Short introduction to the union

The Alliance of Workers Unions of Russia 'Defense' (whose official name is Multiregional Alliance of Workers Unions of Russia 'Defense of Labor') was created in 1992, and the period of the development of the trade-union alliance began in 1996, after the restoration of the leadership and executive structure of the workers' political organizations. The alliance "Defense of Labor" has organizations in more than 30 regions of Russia. In the alliance there is no unified management command - direction comes from three centers with equal rights: Arzamas-16, Astrakhan and Moscow. The Astrakhan center coordinates work on South Russia, implements international connections and legal guarantees. The Arzamas center coordinates activity in the other regions of Russia. The Moscow center is responsible for relations with the federal organs of power and the work of the principle Union organizations in Moscow and vicinity.

At the head of the alliance there are three co-chairs. At the present time these are comrades Victor G. Gamov (Arzamas-16), Alexander I Zaitsev (Moscow) and Oleg V. Shein (Astrakhan). The representatives of the regional organizations form the council of representatives. In various regions "Defense of Labor" has a variety of names. For brevity it is customary to use the name "Alliance Defense".

Political Orientation

"Defense" does not hide its political orientation. The trade union alliance stands against capitalist or bureaucratic exploitation, for power of wageworkers, nationalization of the banks and enterprises, internationalism.

Members of the Russian Communist Workers' Party, the Alliance Front of Workers, Marxist Workers Party, Communist Party of the Russian Federation and a number of other organizations join in the work of "Defense". "Defense" is not "under the wing" of any party, but unites workers' activists from various left organizations and unaffiliated individuals.

The organizations of the Alliance "Defense" in the regions of Russia (...) constitute the regional organization of "Defense". The largest organizations work in the Federal Nuclear Center (Arzamas-16) the Vorgashorsky mine, Astrakhan (in Komi).

Organizational Structure

The foundation of the union is the primary organizations. Three persons are sufficient for the creation of such primary organizations, but practical experience has shown, that if the strength of the primaries does not grow, the bosses will isolate and eliminate such an organization over time. Therefore, union committees should establish as a goal the constant growth of membership in the union, education and organization of the workers. The union workers' committees direct the primary organizations, which select two or three co-chairs.

Membership in the union is forbidden to employers and their representatives. Co-chairing is the most important organizational achievement of "Defense". It introduces the avoidance of bureaucratization to the leadership of the unions, the alienation from the collective, and command over the workers. Besides, it strengthens the organization against leave, illness or absence of the leadership for some other cause. When the leaders educated in the struggle are many, the union is stronger. Example: the Astrakhan organization.

Once a week the primary representatives come together at the Council of Representatives. At the founding conference of the Alliance "Defense" the Council of Representatives was elected by the Executive Workers Committee. When necessary, the Council of Representatives may replace members of the Executive Committee with more active comrades. To be precise, the principle organizations give the mission to the executive committee. Three co-chairs head the committee. All members of the committee are equal.

Social Composition of the union

There are "Defense" unions of construction workers, doctors, teachers, seasonal workers, workers in energy, local government workers, municipal civil servants, food workers, shipyard workers, drivers, and many others.

Symbol of the Union

Clenched fist on a background of a red 5 pointed star.

Methods of Struggle

The Alliance "Defense" will use all available methods of defense of the rights of wage workers, including discussion, collective bargaining, courts, strikes, blockades of roads and administrative buildings, seizure of enterprises, tent cities. There will be frequent mass demonstrations and protest marches, among them, actions against attempts to change existing labor legislation.

Besides the struggle for defense of the right to labor, the union will exert itself to improve the situation of the members of the organization, to advance spiritual and physical level. New year's gift exchanges, trips are seen as material support. A 'defense' sports team will be created.

Many activists of the union were subjected to persecution, reprimand, firing, court judgments and attacks. The co-chair of the Astrakhan "defense" organization, Oleg Yurevich Maxakov, was murdered. Such are the conditions of class conflict. The owners do not want to reconcile themselves with the existence of an independent workers' organization, consistently asserting the rights of the workers.

International Contacts

The Alliance "Defense" maintains connections with the workers organizations of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Greece, the United Kingdom, USA, and a number of other countries.


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