Are trade unions necessary in IT? Our activist took part in the round table C++ Russia 2023

An activist of our trade union took part in a round table on the topic “Are trade unions necessary in IT?“. In the article we will state the position of the trade union on the topic.

What is a trade union?

Every IT worker was in a union. Perhaps not for long, did not realize it, but it was. When you read reviews about a bad employer and did not go to work for that company, you teamed up with other professionals who wrote these reviews or also did not go to work there. When you just got together for retro, discussed problems and figured out how to solve them together, you have already formed a “proto-union”.

60% of IT specialists encountered with violations of labor law:

  • inclination to dismissal of one’s own free will;

  • reduction in wages or delays in payments;

  • gray, black salary, work on GPC;

  • lack of salary indexation;

  • requirement to work overtime;

  • holiday ban etc.

We regularly handle complaints from IT staff through feedback form. In our practice, the most frequent case is voluntary dismissaland the mainstream of recent months is prohibition of remote work from abroad. There are also cases of massive non-payment of wages. And with each new complaint, we first of all ask the question: “Are you alone in this situation, or do you have colleagues and acquaintances who also got into it?” Unite: a collective struggle always gives a better chance of success.

Unfortunately, such appeals to our trade union are more often a reaction to the extreme aggravation of the conflict with the employer. If these companies had a truly independent trade union, it would not come to such appeals, the problems would be solved by the victory of employees. unionit is an association of workers, which solves problems in the relationship between the employee and the employer. But what can a trade union do in an IT company when there are no open conflicts with the employer?

IT-specific problems

Many IT professionals face the following challenges every day:

  • crunches/overtimes as part of the production process;

  • projects with a lot of legacy;

  • professional burnout and stress;

  • the need for ongoing training outside of working hours;

  • shifting responsibility for project deadlines onto task performers.

Each of these problems can be dealt with if you do it as a well-coordinated team. Start raising these questions on retro. From discussion common problems And joint search for their solution association begins.

But conflicts of interest between employees and employers are constant. The firm earns on the difference between how much an employee brings in and how much he receives. Therefore, it is more profitable for a business to pay an employee as little as possible so that the difference is greater. For example, performance review for a company – a tool to reduce the real cost of IT specialists and a way to squeeze out the maximum profit at the cost of their burnout. Strong team workers may oppose such practices and win. Moreover, the union of such teams can solve the problems of the whole industry.

Problems of the IT industry in general

We are more than once illuminated problems of the IT industry in Russia before February 24, 2022. After the start of the CBO, we criticized the direction of development: IT cannot develop in a vacuum, the applied industry needs to be “applied” to something. Besides, it becomes clearthat the so-called “support measures” of the industry infringe on the rights of workers.

But even without “support measures” there are enough problems. The global economy is once again experiencing a general crisis, and companies are laying off workers. At the same time, businesses are looking for other ways to optimize the payroll fund. The introduction of elements of the platform economy is increasingly threatening the IT industry.

The current law “On Employment of the Population” introduces the concept “platform employment”, giving it the broadest possible definition. Such an initiative could be a preparation for the adoption of laws like the Ukrainian “Diya City”which put IT specialists on a par with couriers, pickup points and other workers employed in the so-called “platform economy”. The platform economy today is a global trend that is dangerous for all IT industry workers.

So are trade unions needed in IT?

If we, IT industry workers, do not want gig contracts without vacations, sick days and guarantees not to be on the street in one day – Yes, we need unions. And for organizing a trade union, it is not necessary to pay membership dues or receive a trade union card. It is enough just to start collectively solving their problems in the workplace. To begin with, for example, to spend retro with benefit.

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