Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Claiming Victories, Tyumen Long-Haul Drivers Suspend Strike But Say They’ll Be Back

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 16 – The long-haul truckers of Tyumen have suspended their labor action after 33 days off work because, in the words of their leader Vladimir Ardashov, they have achieved many of their immediate goals and will resume their strike if the regional and federal governments don’t make further concessions.

            The union leader said the drivers had succeeded in getting Moscow to promise a review of the Plato system in the courts,  forced the authorities to cancel all fines that had been levied against the truckers during the strike, and that prompted Moscow to freeze the Plato rate rather than increase it (ng72.ru/news/view/15-05-2017-zabastovka-prekratilas-predsedatel-dalnoboyshchikov-tyumeni-ushel-v-otstavku-iz-za-bolezni-s-serdcem).

            “We could have continued to strike,” Ardashov continued, “but there already is no point in doing so.”  Now, the drivers can earn a living again and they can watch to see if the powers that be continue to meet them at least half way.  “If there are no results,” however, the drivers will resume their labor action.

            The Tyumen labor leader said that health problems are compelling him to step aside and the union there will have to hold new elections.  “If it is decided for us to begin a third strike, then it already will be not with me at the head,” not because his attitude has changed but rather because he is too ill to do all that is necessary.

            Meanwhile, the Russian authorities are doing what they can to play down the strike even as they make concessions.  In Yamal, they announced that they were testing the long-haul drivers for HIV, clearly a way to trying to isolate and demonize the drivers (vesti-yamal.ru/ru/vjesti_jamal/na_yamale_dalnoboyschikov_testiruyut_na_vich162157).

            Moscow officials said the Plato system has collected 25 billion rubles (500 million US dollars) already (argumenti.ru/economics/2017/05/534924), and a Russian bank claimed that the long-haul truckers’ strike had not affected the delivery or price of consumer goods, despite much evidence to the contrary (rns.online/consumer-market/Raiffaizenbank-protesti-dalnoboischikov-suschestvenno-ne-povliyali-na-potrebitelskie-tseni--2017-05-15/).

            There was one positive development late yesterday: officials in the Kirov oblast government announced the establishment of a special department within the bureaucracy to deal only with the problems of the long-haul truckers, the latest regional hierarchy to make that decision (7x7-journal.ru/anewsitem/94998).

            And for those who would like to get an idea of the reach of the truckers’ strike, Stratfor has published a map showing where there have been reports that the drivers have carried out labor actions (profi-forex.org/novosti-rossii/entry1008307777.html).

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