The illusion of a professional association on the example of the community “We are IT”
In March 2022 IT community worried exodus of personnel. Director of RAEC Sergey Plugotarenko returned to the idea of association: “RAEC has prepared a number of solutions to support and retain IT specialists (including self-employed). One of the key measures is the launch of a digital platform with the working title IT Trade Union, which will become an aggregator for IT professionals and a navigator for support measures.”
And then, all of a sudden, on March 26, a telegram channel was created “Grants and benefits for IT“. Creates his Evgeny Titarenko – CEO of the Skolkovo startup BenefittY:
The second administrator of the community is Semyon Tenyaev, founder of another Skoltech startup TenChat and part-time founder of the All-Russian business center.
Already April 22 to the group connects Maksut Shadayev himself, Minister of Digital Development, who periodically personally answers for questions from the community:
On September 21, the community appears “MIT – We are IT”, which was originally called “Mobilization and accreditation of IT”. The purpose of the group is to help with mobilization. Creator groups – also Evgeny Titarenko:
In the future, the community was transformed. Now declaredthat it will discuss “various topical topics in the development of IT technologies”:
Why is “We IT” not a union?
The original word “trade union” suggested by users in community name variations. This suggests that many people do not understand the purpose of the union. At the same time, the creators of the group “Grants and Benefits for IT” writewhat “another union” does not do:
It is more important for us to understand what distinguishes this association from the trade union and what is proposed as a “fundamentally new” organization.
The association wants to sit on two chairs: on the one hand, to gather a community of leaders and entrepreneurs, and on the other hand, to create a “social movement, where we all are actually already included.”
This wording raises questions. Suppose the owner decides to close the business due to low profits. How can this decision be in the best interests of the employees who need this job? Strong unions can not only prevent businesses from closing, but also to restore their work. This is a rare case, but the contradiction between the owner and the team is always there, and it manifests itself in different ways. For example, you are assigned a boss that you do not like, but you have to work with him. For this reason 70% of employees are dissatisfied with their management in companies, because the owner appoints management for profit, and you are interested in working for the company.
Which side will the community take in the conflicts described above? In whose interests is this community created? In difficult economic conditions, the interests of workers and employers inevitably come into sharp conflict, and in this case, one will have to choose one. In the beginning, we talked about the common interests of union members, but in fact this association is an attempt to bring together people with different interests.
The MIT community cannot be focused on the collective defense of workers’ rights. The promise “everyone will be heard” cannot be kept in practice. At the time of this writing, the MIT group has 26,000 members, and Grants and Benefits has 14,000 members. It takes a full-time team to process the applications of so many people. NGOs can hardly afford this. Moreover, the MIT chat is closed and opened by the decision of the administration, which cannot be influenced in any way. This goes against the idea that “everyone will be heard.”
MIT works on the principle that there is an administration that has special abilities: it can call the minister of digital development in a chat or hold a meeting in the government. And there are other members. Organizations that rely on only a few leaders to make decisions will quickly collapse if something happens to those leaders.
The trade union is based on other principles: members have equal rights and equal opportunities. This allows the union to defend the working conditions of its members and maintain independence.
Why domestic MIT is dangerous
Undoubtedly, MIT has advantages:
An attempt to establish an open dialogue between government, business and workers.
Communication channel with Maksut Shadayev.
But there are also disadvantages:
Despite the declared openness and transparency of the community, nothing prevented the administration from creating a closed chat for directors of firms, where, apparently, issues are discussed that are not supposed to be shared with mere mortals.
There is no democracy in the association: as the administration has decided, so it will be. There is also no election of the administration.
Although the community is positioned as a “social movement”, no real action is expected from the participants, only chats. An illusion is created that it is enough just to ask a question, and everything will be decided up there.
MIT does not aim to protect labor rights, but speculates on the negative attitude towards labor unions. Probably not to alienate the business.
Both communities promote business interests. “Grants and benefits for IT” specializes in obtaining investments, grants and tax breaks for businesses, as the name implies. MIT, on the other hand, raises the topics of reverse relocation, delays from mobilization, accreditation of IT companies and employee training. This community is concerned that businesses lack qualified personnel for various reasons. In part, these topics intersect with the interests of employees and indirectly affect their well-being. However, this list does not include a number of problems that people worry about, based on our data. survey:
Why is a trade union needed, and not an abstract association of IT specialists?
The communities discussed in the article do not protect the rights of employees. At best, they play the role of a news agency. At worst, they distract employees from their own problems, replacing them with business problems. In addition, the illusion is created that someone will solve the problems of workers for them.
Trade unions are the only means in history by which workers in various sectors of the economy have achieved a change in the balance of power in enterprises and even in countries. In France, such associations have already happened once. achieved cancellation of pension reform and trying do it again. Almost nothing prevented the reform in Russia. The trade union assumes active actions, instead of passive expectation of answers and decisions “from above”.
We do not believe that MIT is a bad association, but we do not believe in the possibility of an organization that is ideal for everyone. In any company, there are contradictions between the owner, who is interested in making a profit, and his employees, who are interested in working at the enterprise. These contradictions can be leveled out in a favorable economic situation, but in crises they always make themselves felt.
If MIT is a new organization for advancing business interests, then that’s good. But there is no need to hide behind the common good for all. If business owners have their own organizations to defend their interests, then workers should also have trade unions to defend their own.
We are an IT union, we are on the side of employees!
Trade Union of IT Workers (request to participate in the work):