Contracted work has become a form of a modern slavery in Russia

Contracted work has become a form of a modern slavery in Russia

16 July, 17:04
Currently, the labor market is thoroughly saturated with corruption that has arisen not at a single moment. As the classic wrote, the severity of Russian laws is mitigated by the non-bindingness of its implementation.

Sergey Peskov, Chairman of the Social Movement "Trud"

It seems that this aphorism has become the rule for Russian entrepreneurs, who have learned in recent years to deftly circumvent legislation. Labor relations are increasingly reminiscent of slavery. Year after year there is a disproportion towards the permissiveness of the bosses. Its stability is ensured by abuses of representatives of the executive and legislative branches, which for an additional fee have made the justice system even more selective. Labor inspections conspire with business and hide numerous violations of working conditions. As a result, demand shifts towards external labor migrants who agree to round-the-clock low-paid work.

We are used to looking at Europe from the side, thinking that its problems will never become ours. The migration crisis of Great Britain, France, Italy is of little interest to Russians, who so far do not see a big threat from the influx of labor from neighboring countries. However, in 2019, Russia ranked fourth in the world in terms of the number of migrants accepted, losing only to the United States, Germany and Saudi Arabia. According to UN estimates, by September 2019, 10 million immigrants from other countries have arrived to us. The assessments of the security forces are much more significant. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that over the past year, 19.5 million foreigners were registered for migration, which is 1.7 million more migrants than a year earlier. According to the FSB, in the first six months alone, about 2.4 million people arrived in Russia to work. Most from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In May 2020, the head of the Border Service of the FSB of Russia Vladimir Kulishov made it clear that official statistics provide an incomplete picture of the migration problem. The point is illegal attempts to cross the state border, which mainly occur in the western, north-western and south-eastern direction. About 6 thousand illegal migrants from Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, Ukraine and Moldova are caught annually. But these are those who manage to be discovered.

Optimists look at the problem of external labor migration superficially, justifying it by closing low-paid vacancies that Russians are not ready to go to work for. Units see an accompanying economic threat. It was possible to establish that migrants are one of the reasons for the low incomes of Russians. Due to the growing influx of cheap labor, the cost of labor of our citizens is reduced. The victims are about 18 million compatriots employed in hidden forms of contingent labor. The Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, together with the social movement Trud, conducted a study that showed that in the informal sector of the economy, about 57% of labor is actually borrowed. People employed there perform the functions of personnel on a par with full-time employees, but according to the documents they are hired by a completely different company. This phenomenon is widespread in industries and warehouses, in construction and retail trade, as well as in cleaning companies, security services and catering enterprises. Under the pretext of providing services, part of the vacancies went into informal employment, where labor costs are deliberately lowered. At the same time, the demand for vacancies in the “white” economy decreased, which forces our compatriots to accept unfavorable conditions. If the Russians are not ready to work somewhere, then their place is occupied by migrants. Moreover, the remaining employees of formal employment, including specialists and managers, are slowing down the growth of salaries, since a cheaper alternative has appeared on the market.

Paradoxically, the minimum wage (minimum wage), which politicians so much talk about, has become another limiting factor in the growth of population incomes. This indicator is the second brake on the Russian economy, used exclusively for political purposes. In the form that now exists, the minimum wage does not carry any economic meaning; everyone relies on him, and he is very low.

The low size of this indicator allows employers to reduce the cost of labor for their employees. With its help, even large business pays less and less for labor, reducing the cost of final products, seeking a competitive advantage by infringing on the rights of its workers. Low minimum wage allows you to divert wages from the attention of fiscal authorities, which directly affects the reduction of budget revenues and the implementation of social guarantees. Linking all benefits to an underestimated minimum makes social payments barely noticeable.

Two striking examples are the strike of Delivery Club couriers and the conflict between workers and a subcontractor of the Amur Gas Processing Plant, which he hired.

Work “to nowhere”

The current legislation allows large businesses to purchase contingent labor, bypassing the adopted regulatory acts, which, in essence, are required to regulate the labor market in the interests of Russian citizens. The superficial attitude of the State Duma to the entrenched “labor slavery” and the gaps in the legislation led to systemic corruption at the level of interaction with the executive branch. Business is not interested in revenue growth, and officials turn a blind eye to numerous violations.

The Russians have long ceased to see something illegal in the blurry framework of working time and failed vacations. Despite the fact that Art. 110 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation sets the minimum weekly rest for an employee at 42 hours, many clerks and state employees are accustomed to having to stay late at work so as not to incur the wrath of the boss, demanding everything at once. Work on holidays and weekends is becoming commonplace for compatriots from the periphery who want to gain a foothold in the capital or city-millionaire, such as St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, etc. Management often ignores overtime, although the employee is entitled in this case to count on an increased rate, which is established by the provisions of Articles 152-153 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation.

The Russians agree to work without vacation for several years from ignorance of their labor rights, or intentionally, realizing the threat of dismissal in any conflict with their superiors. Although labor legislation prohibits the employer from depriving employees of legal rest for two consecutive years (part 4 of article 124 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation). Moreover, no one has the right to replace the vacation with monetary compensation, which is possible only upon dismissal (Article 127 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation). Any transfer of days free from work is possible with the written consent of the employee (part 3 of article 124 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation). Moreover, his continuous vacation should be at least 14 calendar days, according to paragraph 2 of Art. 8 and paragraph 1 of article 9 of Convention No. 132 of the International Labor Organization “On paid leave”. Russian law stipulates that after the transfer the free days should be used no later than next year (part 3 of article 124 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation).

Is it any wonder that Russians mistrust the system of protecting labor rights, even if the Rostrud report for 2019 showed that only 11% of complaints lead to dishonest owners and employers to fines. Even less is the proportion of those appeals that entail the initiation of administrative proceedings - 3%. In most cases, attempts by Russians to defend their labor rights end with explanations from the state inspectorate and ... subsequent dismissal of their own free will.

To some extent, the crisis becomes for the business owner an excuse to save on people. Employees are willing to put up with delays in salaries, although Art. 136 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation obliges the employer to pay staff at least 2 times a month (!). It also states that full payment should be made no later than the 15th day of the next month. A vacation must be issued to the employee 3 days before leaving for vacation. Many of our citizens are afraid of being left without work and are ready to put up with obvious violations, although labor legislation, even for partial debt for a period of more than 3 months, can bring an employer to criminal liability up to 3 years in prison (Article 145 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

In the construction industry, the most loyal to external migrants, no one checks contractors. Obviously, not a single Russian construction site can do without Uzbeks and Tajiks. When checking illegal immigrants are taken out by bus. In fact, working without patents, they are subject to deportation. But in a strange way, these people reappear at the construction site the very next day. There are clear signs of corruption at the local level of the executive branch.

Moreover, large companies use the imperfection of the law to withdraw money. According to estimates by the Trud social movement, annually 7 trillion. the business withdraws rubles through an intermediary company, whose employees work in the interests of the user company.

Of course, the situation on the labor market requires surgical intervention. But toughening inspections and tightening control over contractors will only provoke an increase in corruption and bribery at all levels of government. This will not help, but will only lead to an even greater decline in the income of the working population. Other ways to solve these problems are needed.

What to do?

The main thing that we can do is to get away from the “gray” salaries. The social movement "Labor" has developed a new system of legal, economic and organizational measures that will make wages "in an envelope" unprofitable from an economic point of view.

Firstly, it is proposed to supplement the definition of contingent labor in Art. 56.1. Labor Code of the Russian Federation, including the execution of work on the territory of the customer, participation in the technological process, the use of equipment, tools and tools of the customer’s employees by the contractor. The next step is to introduce responsibility for the use of labor that falls under the characteristics of the borrowed, outside the structures and rules defined by federal laws (moreover, both the sending and the receiving parties must bear responsibility). The goal is to prohibit borrowed labor outside the framework of PrEA, where the employee is protected by law.

Secondly, it is necessary to remove restrictions from PrEAs (Article 341.2. Of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation), allowing them to conclude fixed-term employment contracts for a period of up to 1 year. Additionally, it is proposed to exempt employment agencies from paying VAT. The public organization "Labor" suggests making borrowed labor with a slightly lower tax rate, because this form of labor involves temporary, seasonal work. We are talking about 15% of taxes. “It will be economically feasible than to cash out money and pay salaries“ in an envelope, ” Sergey Peskov believes. Instead of paying a similar percentage, the employer will be able to calmly work “in white”, paying the same amount in the form of taxes. Everyone will benefit - both workers, and business, and the state. Outsourcing companies now use mostly subcontracting organizations from the general taxation system to cash out salary funds.

As you can see, the implementation of the measures voiced eliminates corruption signs that hinder the growth of incomes of working citizens, as well as increase revenues to budgets of all levels. Consequently, the state will be able to guarantee the least protected groups of the population much more tangible support, and the work of citizens will gain new value.

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