Our Russian comrades of Rabochaya Demokratia have been approached by the Russian Dockworkers’ Union in Saint Petersburg with a request to organise international solidarity for the struggle they are presently involved in.
The union organises several thousands dockers at the port as well as workers at ports in Vyborg and Kaliningrad. It has been one of the most militant Trade Unions in Russia since 1991. Under conditions of severe crisis in the labour movement in the 1990s the Union organised five or six strikes.
After the privatisation and a multiple changes of owners, the terminals of the port are now in the hands of several companies. One of them, Jysk Staalindustri, is involved in a labour conflict that has been going on for two years. At the beginning the dockers called for an “Italian strike” action, now they are working only for part of the working time. It is most likely that within the next few days all work at the port will come to a complete stop. This is because the owners of the sea terminals have managed to redistribute the freight flow using the ports in Estonia and thus the strike has turned out to be not so effective as in the past.
In these conditions the workers are in great need of solidarity and the Trade Union executive personally addressed a request of help and international solidarity to our Russian comrades, who with some other Trade Unions organised a campaign of solidarity with the strike, including organising picket-lines, distributing of leaflets and posters.
The strikers’ demands are for a new collective agreement, an increase in wages, a halt to increases in the rate of production and safeguards against sackings.
All the supporters of this web site around the world are called on to raise International solidarity.
What is needed is the following:
Model letter for Saint Petersburg Dockers
Dear brothers and sisters of the Russian Dockers’ Union,
We have been informed of your strike action by the comrades of Rabochaya Demokratia and the In Defence of Marxism web site (www.marxist.com).
We understand you have been one of the most militant trade unions in the defence of workers’ interests ever since 1991, even in the very difficult conditions that followed.
We also note that the port has been privatised and has passed through the hands of several private owners, and that it has also been broken up into several different companies, on of them being Jysk Staalindustri, which has been hit by strike action for the last two years.
We understand that things are now escalating and that an all-out strike may take place soon. This is in response to the owners’ attempting to redirect freight through other countries. This is a time for international solidarity and we send you all the support of our comrades and we commit ourselves to raising a campaign in your support here in our country.
We support your just demands for a new collective agreement, an increase in wages, a halt to increases in the rate of production and safeguards against sackings.
2. An appeal to the ITF (International Transport Federation) leadership. The main ITF office is situated in London. The ITF has a lot of resources and channels through which they could help the Russian Dockers’ Union, which is a member of the ITF, but does not use the possibilities that such membership entitles them to.
3. Organising pressure upon Jysk Staalindustri in Denmark. Pickets, media-campaign, etc.
If any further information about the strike and other connected issues is required our Russian comrades can provide this.