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Sign the petition: “Save University Professors!”

15 Jun

950 faculty of the State University of Management (SUM) have received notice of the impending massive redundancy 30 June 2014. And those faculty whose labor contract is ending this year will be fired without any redundancy compensation.

At the peak of the mass protest against cuts and deteriorating working conditions, a organization of Inter-Regional Trade Union of the Higher-Education Teaching Personnel «University Solidarity» was established in the SUM. Its actions have caused a wide resonance and attracted media attention to the monstrous restructuring, which the SUM administration tried to hide.

Now the administration is made act in accordance with law, but in order to economize on professors, the SUM bosses transfer the faculty to part-time, hourly wage and civil (non-labor) contracts, increasing the work load significantly.

This will inevitably lead to a decrease in the quality of education!

The situation in the SUM is a shocking, but typical case of our common woes of high school. The Reform of universities is actually performed by dramatic redundancies and by excessive growth of work load. If this policy is not stopped, it may result in the collapse of education and science in Russia!

Today, in the SUM – tomorrow, in your school!

Sign the petition against the cuts in the SUM and submit it via the form below to the SUM Acting Rector Vladimir Godin, Education and Science Minister Dmitry Livanov and the mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin.

Research and teaching staff are advised to indicate your academic degree and title in the “organization” line.

You can get more information on the situation in the State University of Management at the website of the «University Solidarity» Trade Union.

Model letter: please cut and paste this text, or go to the Confederation of Labour of Russia site and fill out the on-line form.

To: Acting rector of the State University of Management
Vladimir Godin

To: Minister of Education and Science
Dmitry Livanov

To: Mayor of Moscow
Sergey Sobyanin

We, the people of various professions and of different political views, are united in our  opposition to the actions of the State University of Management administration, leading to a decrease in the quality of education.  This is  and more like a managerial attempt of layoff, rather than the proverbial "optimization". We express our solidarity with the professors  and lecturers of the university.

We require:
1. Stop unjustified redundancies in the State University of Management  and forcing the professors  into worse conditions of employment.

2. Conduct a comprehensive inspection of the SUM administration’s  actions for compliance with the laws of the Russian Federation.

3. Abandon disastrous "reforming" the higher education at the expense of the professors, by increasing their work load and by mass layoffs.

4. Start negotiations with the trade union organizations of the university, the Moscow authorities, the Ministry of Education, and the  SUM administration in order to find an alternative to the professors’ jobs cuts.


Inter-regional trade union of higher education employees “University Solidarity” holds conference in Moscow

15 May

Translation of a report published on 29 April by the activist web site

On Saturday 27 April representatives of university teachers from 13 regions of Russia gathered in Moscow at the trade union-linked hotel Izmailovo. The purpose of the gathering was to set up an independent inter-regional trade union that would stand up for the interests of higher education employees in deeds, not words.

Judging by the speeches at the meeting and the talk in the corridors, the problems in higher education are intensifying sharply. A teacher from Ufa asked: “As a reader my [monthly] salary is 13,000 rubles [£270 or $415], while a cleaner at the supermarket across the road gets 15,000. What are we going to do?”

Actually it’s clear what to do: push for higher pay. The president and government talk about the fact that by 2018 university teachers’ pay will be 200% of the average in each region. That’s good, but no-one in government has explained to the long-suffering teachers how to live until then.

Moreover, the government’s “road map” for higher education envisages a substantial reduction in teacher numbers, as part of the cuts in the number of universities and the public sector workforce in general.

The historian Dr Konstantin Morozov, member of the organising committee and professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities explained how the work to form a new union was initiated and developed. Significantly, the idea at first had been to set up a university Teachers Association, but then a section of the activists involved had reached the conclusion that the organisational form that could most effective unite people to defend their rights was a trade union [which has a specific legal status].

For those at the conference, it was obvious that the traditional union of education and research workers, inherited from the USSR, could not do what had to be done. Taking advantage of the passivity of the majority of employees, this union has adopted a collaborationist position in respect of government policy and is an obstacle to any real struggle.

The situation with the traditional union, which is affiliated to the Federation of Independent Trades Unions of Russia, is unacceptable to the most honest and active people in its own ranks, including the leaders of several of its [workplace] committees who attended the “University Solidarity” conference as observers.

As for the aims of the new union, one of its joint presidents, Pavel Kudiukin, a reader at the Higher School of Economics and at one time deputy labour minister of the Russian Federation, pointed out that the government is going all-out to destroy any illusions in the university-based intelligentsia that it has any kind of special status. “University teachers are not only being proletarianised, they are being singled out for special punishment”, he told the conference.

It therefore makes sense for the new union to use the whole arsenal of weapons available to unions for defending employees’ rights, including strikes. This point was made to the delegates by Igor Kovalchuk, deputy president of the Russian seafarers’ union,  as he delivered a message of support from his organistaion.

Boris Kravchenko, president of the Russian Confederation of Labour, told the conference that public sector workers may well become the backbone of a general campaign to defend social rights from government attack. Education and health are, after all, the spheres in which workers’ interests coincide most directly with those of the whole of society.

And the first tangible expression of such solidarity came with the adoption of a resolution at the conference to support the protest campaign by doctors in Izhevsk [who have recently staged a widely publicised hunger strike against health cuts].

The new union also intends to work closely together with “Teacher”, a union that brings together, mostly, school teachers.

The Moscow conference agreed on a constitution, a declaration and the other documents needed to set up a trade union.

The leading organ is a central council, which will work together with the five joint presidents, who represent the Russian State University of the Humanities, Moscow State University, the Higher School of Economics and two regional centres, Kazan and Ekaterinburg.

It is expected that workplace organisations of “University Solidarity” will soon appear in many of Russia’s leading higher education institutions.

15 May, 2013