In Saint Petersburg, the IUF-affiliated Novoprof is successfully recruiting among the many migrant workers from Central Asia working in food, catering and cleaning. Vulnerable and easily exploited, often lacking proper documentation, the workers are easily prey to wage theft. Over the past 8 months, Novoprof has recruited hundreds of these migrants, helping them win more than 3 million roubles (USD 100.000) USD) of unpaid wages.
Written contracts are rare; many workers do not know who their real employer is. The authorities tolerate abuses. So the union turned to direct action: strikes, work stoppages, demonstrations and rallies in a campaign which generated media coverage and wider public support.
Novoprof vice-chair Petr Prinev, noting the growing number of applications the union receives from migrant workers, says “We proved that it is possible and necessary to fight for wages, and the first step towards winning is to become a member of our union.”
Novoprof janitors on strike: “No to fraud”, “Today they lie to us, tomorrow they lie to you”, “Pay wages, obey the law.”