By Oleg Shein
Translated by sabocat, 28 February 2001
The court of the Astrakhan region denied the suit of the Administration of the Train and Trolley Authority to declare the strike led by the union "Defense of Labor" in November of last year illegal. At that time about 100 workers of the Authority went to the shop office, demanding the recission of the shift schedule, which amounted to 11-12 hours, and was introduced by the management without the agreement of "Defense of Labor".
The management was frightened by the action of the workers, and had to concede to their demand, but later filed a suit with the court. It should be noted that the change in the shift schedule that was introduced after the action not only reduced the shift to 7-9 hours, but also brought an increase on wages of 27-30%. The political character of the case was not hidden.
The representatives of the city council, who took the side of the directors of the Authority, declared outright that this was a political trial. Mayor Bezrukavnikov and Co. candidly pursued the goal to defame the union, demoralize the collective, and take revenge. In the course of the trial the fact was borne out that the Federation of independent Trade Unions of Russia was used to bribe the workers on the eve of the November events. The director of the Authority transferred 370 thousand rubles (tr: about 13,200 US dollars) for distribution to the workers. Nonetheless, almost none of the workers accepted the payments. The attempt of the managers win the case failed. The trial was very tense and lasted four days.
Trolley driver Olga Ginoyan, conductor Anatoli Sadikov,"Defense of Labor" attorney Valeri Petrov and co-chair of the union Oleg Shein conducted the case for the workers. Furthermore, since in the course of the events the demand was put forth to include the SOTSPROF union in the general three party commission, so that SOTSPROF could represent the interests of "Defense of Labor" on the commission, Sergei Khramov appeared on the side of the workers. Thus, the court recognized that in the case of presence in the enterprise of two unions, the agreement of both was required with both of them, and in general, the work stoppage in this case cannot be considered as a collective labor dispute, but only allowable with notification and due process. This is a very important decision, which has the character of a precedent for all of Russia.