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Acting President and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took part in a council meeting of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia

February 16, 2000, Moscow

The meeting discussed the fulfilment of the 2000–2001 general agreement signed on December 16, 1999 between the trade unions, employers and the government. The agreement provides for the adoption of a number of social bills, increasing minimum pay rates, and introducing some social guarantees for the working people.

Addressing his audience, Mr Putin said that the main goal of the trade unions was to help people find their bearings in a market economy.

He stressed that authorities wanted the trade unions to become an influential, authoritative and progressive force in society. He urged the unions to act as social partners with the bodies of authority, listing among shared top-priority jobs the need to set up a civilised labour market, to bring labour legislation in line with modern society requirements, and to establish a system of supervision of working conditions.

At the end of the meeting, Mr Putin replied to journalists’ questions dealing mainly with labour relations. He said that the government would take the necessary measures to prevent further delays in the payment of wages to public sector workers and do its utmost to clear the outstanding arrears. The Cabinet of Ministers also proposed to speed up the preparation of a new code of labour safety and protection.

Replying to the question about reforms in the natural monopolies, he denied rumours that Unified Energy Systems and Gazprom might be parcelled. In his view, the job of restructuring the country’s major system-forming institutions should be handled with care. He gave an assurance that no rushed decisions would be made.

February 16, 2000, Moscow