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Congress of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia

April 4, 2024, Moscow

Vladimir Putin spoke at the 12th Congress of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia.

The congress is attended by over 600 delegates: heads of trade unions and trade union associations, representatives of government bodies, chairs of trade union committees of primary trade union organisations, veterans of the trade union movement and heads of educational institutions of trade unions, youth councils and commissions. Guests of the congress represent national trade union centres from 10 countries.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Shmakov, colleagues and friends,

To begin with, I would like to thank you for inviting me to the 12th Congress of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia.

Your association is one of the leading Russian civil society institutions. It performs a responsible mission by protecting the labour rights of employees of companies, industrial businesses and teams of whole industries, as well as those engaged in education, science and culture. You are doing a great deal to improve legislation and harmonise employment relations.

Principles of social partnership between the state, businesses and trade unions have become a firm foundation in this respect. Importantly, a relevant norm has now been sealed in the Constitution of Russia at the trade unions’ initiative.

Such practical interaction is taking place within the Russian Trilateral Commission. Last year alone, it reviewed over one hundred draft federal laws and Government resolutions, including the draft federal budget and the budgets of the Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund and the Social Fund.

I know, in part from my own experience of working in the Government, that sometimes members of the commission have intense discussions and heated debates. I must say it has always been like this and the same is taking place now when I attend some joint meetings with the Government. Some colleagues speak about the expediency of adopting these or other decisions, whereas some Government representatives are more direct: No, it will not go through, the trade unions will not allow this.

I am not saying anything new here; this is what happens in practice. That said, the integrity of the sides, the openness of their positions and the understanding that the interests of the country and millions of our people are behind every move, guarantee that decisions are adopted in a balanced manner. In practical work, Mr Shmakov, the head of the trade unions, and I stay in constant contact on individual issues of utmost importance for employees. This is how the balance of interests between employees, businesses and the state is observed.

The Government, employers and trade unions will soon sign a regular trilateral general agreement. Its priorities are as follows: to forecast the country’s demand for personnel, develop mechanisms of targeted education, promote working professions and enhance the social protection of the working people.

I hope for your productive cooperation in all of these areas, especially since they are an integral part of the upcoming large-scale work on achieving national development goals.

As you know, in the recent Address to the Federal Assembly I described in detail the programme of our actions. I would like to remind you that it was largely drafted during meetings with teams from industrial companies, workers, engineers and managers. This programme is based on the interests of our people, their right to labour, to decent life in every region of our country, every city and village.

One of the key factors in this respect is accessible, high-quality education, a real opportunity for every individual to pursue a fulfilling, interesting, promising profession that is aligned with their interests and to continually enhance skills throughout their career and lifetime. Today it is an absolute given, a requirement of the times.

As I said in the Address, the Personnel national project will be launched next year. I am confident that trade unions will make a proactive contribution to its implementation. We will continue to strengthen connections between all levels of education and develop their close partner relationships with employers. I am referring to the further development of the career guidance system, which has already been established at schools, and the implementation of the Professionalitet federal project, which aims to train about one million vocational professionals for various economic sectors, including electronics, IT, pharmaceuticals, the light industry, aircraft and shipbuilding, and so on, at modernised education and production centres based on our businesses’ requirements. Later, cooperation between educational establishments and enterprises will be extended to the entire system of general education, including the training of personnel for schools, hospitals, outpatient clinics, services, tourism and similar fields.

We will provide additional support to universities that launch personnel and technological projects jointly with the regions, the real economy sector and the social sphere. The Priority 2030 programme will be extended for this purpose. I hope that university trade unions, which have always been powerful and respected, will contribute to this.

In particular, in my Address I outlined the goal of raising salaries for teachers of core subjects at higher education institutions. I think there is no need to explain why this is important. We will start implementing this project in pilot mode on September 1, 2024. I would like to ask you to ensure public control, primarily through trade unions, in this sphere.

We are creating a system to determine future workforce requirements so that graduates of our colleges, vocational schools and universities can be certain that they will have interesting jobs in their respective fields. We must be able to forecast how many professionals we will need in the economy, including production engineers, builders, designers, teachers, social workers and the like, how many of them we will need in five years and in a more distant future. Based on this knowledge, we will give the figures to educational establishments, which will adjust their admissions accordingly.

These forecasts will be regularly updated based on business activity, the situation in specific economic sectors and on the employment market. I would like to note that we have seriously reduced unemployment thanks to the activities of the Government, businesses, regions and trade unions. It is currently at its lowest ever at about 3 percent. There is good dynamics as well: in 2023, the unemployment rate fell below 3 percent for the first time, reaching 2.9 percent, and the figure for February 2024 was 2.8 percent. Overall, this is one of the most important economic indicators.

I would like to emphasise that the Russian economy will face a high demand for and even a shortage of personnel in the near future due to demographic challenges. This is a fact that we must acknowledge and prepare for in the coming years. In this situation, it is critically important to increase labour productivity, modernise our industries, agribusiness, services and many other economic and social sectors through the use of digital technologies and the automation of production and modern management processes. These efforts should result in better working conditions and higher salaries.

To achieve this goal, industry competence centres will play a crucial role in analysing and replicating the best lean production practices. We will continue to establish more such centres throughout the country.

Moving on, as I have said in my Address, Russia is expected to focus on its industrial development and make it its priority in the next six years. We need to increase the share of domestically manufactured goods in our internal market, including equipment, machinery, transport means, medicines, consumer goods, and more. We can and we will manufacture all these products ourselves and we can and we will substantially increase their output. What would that mean for us? We all understand here that this is what promoting structural changes in the economy, ensuring its growth, increasing GDP and paying people decent salaries is all about. We have very little choice here: we must either recruit foreign workers or improve labour efficiency.

There must be modern manufacturing sites and jobs everywhere, across all regions. We will finetune the tools and mechanisms we have for supporting businesses and promoting territorial development to make this happen. Meanwhile, efforts to attract investments will go hand in hand with the requirement to raise employee wages and offer them better benefits, including quality healthcare and vacations for specialists.

I would like to emphasise that employers can recruit professional, qualified people only by offering fair compensation and taking care of them and their working environment. These are not empty words in today’s world, and all experts can relate to this: factors such as the level of training specialists have, education opportunities, and healthcare have a direct bearing on labour efficiency. This is the future, no doubt about that. This is the way to make competitive goods, and therefore this is the only path to development in a genuinely sovereign way. This is our objective.

Let me reiterate that efforts to build up Russia’s technological and industrial potential and strengthen the Russian economy must improve the wellbeing of our people and enable them to earn higher wages. Within the next six years, we must see a substantial increase in the share of labour compensation in GDP. Look what we have: this share is already growing in Russia, from 38.5 percent in 2022 to 40.7 percent in 2023. Of course, this affects people’s wellbeing, which should be the primary focus for trade unions. Moreover, it impacts the purchasing power and therefore influences the economy and entire manufacturing sectors. It goes without saying that we must strike a balance among all these factors, but this is also important.

In this connection, I would like to emphasise that trade unions must be at the forefront of promoting economic and social renewal in a comprehensive and effective manner. You must compel those heading your enterprises, their owners and heads of agencies and government bodies to upgrade their operations and introduce the best available technology. Do not be afraid that these solutions would leave more people without work. In fact, unemployment is virtually non-existent in Russia, so this would not be a threat within the next few years. After all, it is these efforts and changes that are in the best interests of the people of Russia. I have no doubt about that.

We will definitely continue to adjust minimum wages for inflation, and have already increased them substantially with the help of the trade unions. We have been debating this issue with your senior executives over the past months, or should I say years. Mr Shmakov has always paid special attention to this matter.

By 2030, we must almost double the minimum wage – to 35.000 roubles, which will have a positive impact on salaries in the economic and public sectors.

By the way, I have instructed the Government to test a new model in the pilot regions for calculating salaries for public sector employees, including in education, healthcare, culture and research. This is a daunting task and it will come at a cost, but we need to do it. I do hope that we will be able to find a solution by engaging in a constructive and mature dialogue with the trade unions.

Of course, it is essential that we enable these highly qualified specialists that our country needs so much to earn higher salaries. We need to address income inequality in various regions. As I said, we will start by undertaking pilot projects in certain regions, before moving on to sector-specific compensation schemes for public sector employees on a nationwide level in early 2027.

Of course, all enterprises, regardless of who owns them, must pay their employees on time and in full. In this regard, trade unions as well as the Federal Service for Labour and Employment and the prosecutors must work together to keep this situation under control.


I would like to commend the trade unions for their valuable contribution to the nationwide support for our military personnel, our heroes who are defending the Fatherland in the special military operation. The trade union movement is actively involved in collecting and delivering aid to the fighters, as well as organising humanitarian convoys for the residents of the regions close to the front. I sincerely thank everyone for their hard work. Thank you very much. I am also grateful to those who are working to restore the trade union system and protect the interests and rights of workers in our historical territories of Donbass and Novorossiya. This work is challenging and sometimes dangerous, but it is much-needed. Thank you.

Finally, I would like to say the following. The trade union movement has always been about more than just protecting citizens’ labour and social rights (which are, without a doubt, its top priorities). The movement also upholds such values as mutual support, truth and justice, and serving the nation and country as a whole.

Our common task is to make sure that future generations of Russians fully embrace these values, and that today’s school and university students, young people, develop a respect for honest and conscientious work from an early age. They should grow up inspired by the examples set by our outstanding fellow citizens and members of labour dynasties.

Our history and present are filled with countless true heroes. Their lives, achievements and heroism deserve to be depicted in films, books and other creative works. More young people should learn about them.

Therefore, I want to ask the trade unions to participate in our new national project, Youth and Children, and to cooperate with the Movement of the First, the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs and the Znanie Society. These organisations need mentors like you who can engage and share their experience with future professionals – and learn something from young people as well. It should be a two-way street. We must be in tune with the new generations, understand them and react to their needs. This is what the present time demands, a time of colossal and rapid changes, in which we are all active participants.

The Russian economy and the labour market are growing fast. We are adopting advanced technologies and modernising entire manufacturing sectors, forming a different employment structure with new requirements for professional qualifications, knowledge and skills.

Our innovative legislative initiatives, plans, programmes and financial investments must drive economic growth, improve the quality of life and enhance the well-being of Russian families. This is our shared end goal. Every decision we make must be well-calculated, effective and financially supported. Every decision must be fair to the people and change their lives for the better.

I am confident that by acting in solidarity and focusing on the interests of the country and our citizens, we will undoubtedly achieve our set goals together.

Thank you.


Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends,

When we hold such events with colleagues from law enforcement and security agencies, even if they are smaller than this one, the press is usually required to leave after the first few general reports, so that we can have a more specific and open discussion in the relevant spheres of responsibility.

Today, we will be unable to do this because of the nature of your work. Nevertheless, I would like to conclude with the following message.

All of us are aware of the conditions we live in. We have been put in a situation where the country had to take up arms to defend its interests, its people, its future and its sovereignty. Every single word is necessary in this sentence. And the main guarantee of our shared success, as the head of the trade union federation has said just now impressively and emotionally, is the unity of Russia’s multiethnic society. It is the main fundamental condition of our success. In this connection, and based on the initial results of the investigation, we have grounds to believe that the main goal of those who masterminded the bloody and heinous terrorist attack in Moscow was to damage our unity. We do not see any other goals, and there are no other goals, because Russia cannot be an object of terrorist attacks by Islamic fundamentalists. Our country has demonstrated a unique example of inter-faith affinity and unity, inter-religious and inter-ethnic unity. And we are acting on the international stage in a manner that can hardly make us an object of attacks by Islamic fundamentalists either. The goal as we see it was to undermine the unity of Russian society, especially in the current conditions.

It is clear that trade unions have their own specific tasks. Mr Shmakov has spoken about this just now, and I also mentioned this in my opening remarks. You know, we did it in the past, and I strongly hope that we will be able to do it in the near and in a more distant future as well, that is, use the powers vested in us by the law, the Constitution and the very essence of the bodies of authority at all levels, our entrepreneurs and trade unions in a responsible manner. This social responsibility is always important, but its importance has increased dramatically in the current situation.

I would like to point out that we have not converted our economy to wartime production despite all the current difficulties. Yes, we have shifted the focus of our efforts and our administrative and financial resources to the development of our defence industry. Some people in this room know what the defence industry is all about and its connection with and influence on other industries. I noticed people nodding when I delivered my remarks, which means that they agree with what I said about raising salaries in the light industry, the food industry and agriculture because the purchasing capacity of our people is growing. Everything is interconnected here.

Nevertheless, we are not converting our economy to the wartime mode; it is sufficiently well-balanced as it is. We have not curtailed any social benefits; we continue to guarantee all of them. Moreover, we have even tightened the responsibility of all bodies of authority for observing them. I strongly hope that we will work together in unison to achieve our national goals.

Thank you very much.

April 4, 2024, Moscow