On March 10, Vladimir Putin issued an instruction to the government to prepare a report by 20 April on the system of remuneration for public sector workers and its relevance to performance targets. Responsibility for fulfilling the tasks has been vested in Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and top officials of the Russian regions.
It should be recalled that from 2012 to 2018, the regions, implementing the first presidential decrees announced in May 2012, brought the salaries of 12 categories of public sector employees to a level no lower than the regional average and promised not to reduce them further.
“Are there any members of your trade union included in this list?” Wek.ru asked Valery SELITRINNIKOV, the chairman of the All-Russian Trade Union of Aircraft Workers, in an interview.
“This is a very acute issue for us," he said. “Alas, for a long time now, we have been trying to restore justice with regard to the rights of employees of operational and production units of the Hydrometeorological Service of Russia (Roshydromet.) In Soviet times, its social issues were resolves simultaneously with aviators. Now, its workers are, in fact, abandoned to the whims of fate. For some reason they do not get decent wages that correspond to their professional skills.”
“And why so?”
“It lies in the fact that back on May 7, 2012, Presidential Decree № 597 "On measures to implement state social policy," the government was ordered to increase wages to certain categories of public sector employees up to certain target levels. However, the decree leaves out Roshydromet’s workers, although their average monthly salary is more than twice lower than the average for the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. This is exactly the situation, for example, in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area, the Krasnodar territory, and the Moscow and Leningrad regions.
“According to preliminary estimates, by 2021, the ratio of salaries of the employees of the state weather monitoring network to the average monthly salary across the country will be 56.5%. It will continue to decrease without additional funding. In other words, not only the Articles 19 and 37 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation are violated. Roshydromet employees are subject to discrimination as regards their right to remuneration for work on the basis of characteristics of the sector where they are employed. Therefore, the equality of all residents before law is violated. The right of our trade union to receive reliable information about the reasons why people's fair and lawful demands are not being met is also being ignored. The people who, along with representatives of other sectors of the economy, are also fulfilling important national tasks.
Interestingly, Roshydromet’s surveying network, whose social discrimination of employees was mentioned by Selitrinnikov, consists of almost 7,000 stations and offices. It is no exaggeration to say that Russia’s security depends on the successful work of its employees.
“The misunderstanding of the meaning and significance of this service comes as a complete surprise to me personally," said Roman Wilfand, the Research Advisor and the head of the Hydrometeorological Centre of Russia. “Authorized representatives of our department work in all regions of the country. They should beat an alarm about the situation first of all. They make all kinds of surveying such as meteorological, agrometeorological, hydrological, radar, and satellite observations. Their information, when it reaches the regions, is processed and sent to the Telecommunications Centre, and from there to the Main Computing Centre. These experts are not the same as scientists. They are remarkably devoted to their profession. They are patriots, who perform feats doing their job in the most difficult weather conditions. In conditions, where there is no habitation for hundreds of kilometres around. They are transported there during the summertime by planes and helicopters.
“I have visited these places. For example, I flew to Agata station on the Taimyr Peninsula in the summer on a hydroplane that landed on the lake. At other times of the year you just can't get there. The whole service is engaged in a business called national hydro-security. After all, observers are called upon to be the first to report hazards that threaten human life and disrupt the economy. These include floods, earthquakes, snowfall and other natural hazards.
According to an international study on the importance of news to the individual conducted in Singapore, Japan and other countries, a remarkable detail was revealed. More than 80% of respondents gave preference to information about weather. And in the poll it was placed alongside politics, economics, and sports.
“In late February, failing to get a fair decision from the Ministry of Finance to include the surveyor service in the list of public sector enterprises, the leaders of the All-Russian Trade Union of Aircraft Workers sent an appeal to the Russian President. There was no other choice, since officials at the Ministry of Finance replied to numerous letters with their standard "not allowed." They said that the "suveyors" had to look for revenues on their own. I wish they were sent to the Taimyr Peninsula and were shown how to do it while surrounded by polar bears.
“The Attorney-General's Office has not told the Finance Ministry’s officials that people who worry day and night about security in Russia deserve a somewhat different treatment. In fact, they gave a negative answer also saying that it was not their business. Today, the main thing is to ensure that Vladimir Putin will get the letter addressed to him directly.”