Dear colleagues, comrades,
The central theme of the current BRICS Trade Union Forum — "Deepening partnership for a better future" — can be regarded as the leitmotif of all our work since 2012, when this Forum was set up in Moscow, until today's anniversary meeting in China.
By partnership we imply not only cooperation of the largest trade union associations in our countries. We also include in this concept a constructive interaction with governments and employers, our social partners.
Tripartite processes are crucial for ensuring coherence of economic, environmental, employment and social policies. It is only through cooperation and constructive negotiations with the socio-economic institutions of our states and with BRICS business representatives that we shall be able to survive the multifaceted global crisis. Sanctions and military pressure will not allow feeding millions of hungry people in the least developed countries. We need a business conversation among equal actors of a multipolar world. This is exactly what the leaders of our countries talked about three weeks ago at the 14th BRICS Summit in Beijing.
The agenda of the BRICS Labour Ministers' meeting to be held right after the Forum seems to be very relevant for trade unions: these are "Promoting green employment for sustainable development", "Developing skills for sustainable recovery" and "Protecting workers' rights in new forms of employment". Let me briefly focus on how we see these problems.
Currently, the world community faces two main tasks. Firstly, to prevent the depletion of natural resources and the climate change which can seriously affect the quality of life of current and future generations.
Secondly, to ensure sustainable development based on three components —economic growth, social justice and environmental protection.
BRICS, the broad format of which should ideally comprise both governments and social partners, is well-positioned to promote sustainable economy.
Unresolved social problems, such as unemployment, especially among young people, as well as inadequate education, healthcare, sanitation and infrastructure complicate the search for solutions to economic problems. The problems of the working poor and the low quality of jobs still affect hundreds of millions of people. The lack of basic social protection increases people's vulnerability to environmental and economic shocks.
To address these challenges, a competent, skilled and motivated workforce is required. Many industries have ample opportunities and a real need to increase the quality of employment by improving occupational safety and health and labour remuneration systems.
In the process of recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening the role of trade unions is crucial to ensure fair and reliable solutions.
Economic development is impossible without restructuring the vocational training system due to job cuts and changes in qualification profiles in many areas of production. This will require taking measures to ensure that education and vocational training meet the needs of the new labour market.
In particular, it would call for active application of e-learning and remote educational technologies.
Trade unions of Russia support the proposals put forward at the international level to revise the professional training system. In the context of the market transition to "green" economy, transformations in the training of OSH specialists should be more profound and dynamic.
When talking about new forms of employment, we refer in particular to care-, digital-, and circular economies.
Taking advantage of the opportunities of technological change, it should be ensured that workers, including those employed through digital platforms, are guaranteed access to social protection and decent working conditions.
In this regard, I would like to particularly welcome the inclusion of safe and healthy working environment in the ILO set of fundamental principles and rights at work. Russian trade unions have long demanded this, and for many years — hand in hand with other BRICS trade unions — have been fighting for the implementation of this approach.
All of us will have to make a lot of efforts to translate this strategic victory into practical deeds. This is an important guarantee of further deepening of partnership in the interests of a better future.
In my report, I can't avoid speaking about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. I shall not dwell on its causes and rather focus on the economic aspect of these events.
At the BRICS Trade Union Forum, we have repeatedly expressed the need to change the financial and economic structure of the world system, move away from unsecured reserve currencies, increase mutual settlement in national currencies and form a pool of reserve currencies unrelated to the dollar and euro. It is not surprising that the illegal sanctions imposed on our country, unprecedented in the history of international relations, are based mainly on restrictions in the financial and banking sectors. It is the ban on trade and banking transactions in dollars and euros, actual confiscation of the Russian Federation's funds held in Western banks that have become the lever with which the United States and Europe are trying to stop our development.
The closure of mutual settlements in these currencies has led to a disruption of supplies within the established technological chains, as well as to the withdrawal of a significant number of Western companies from the Russian market.
Of course, sooner or later this will lead to growing unemployment and the need to retrain workers. We are prepared for this. We believe that the FNPR's proposals on preserving jobs at former Western enterprises by nationalizing them or transferring the ownership to domestic businesses will help solve the employment problem within a short time.
Currently, we do not see a sharp collapse or a noticeable decline in production volumes in any of the industries. There are some areas where Western manufacturers used to dominate, for example, in the supply of aircraft for civil aviation, and where the reduction of the fleet and the volume of international air traffic have become very visible. However, the Russian aviation industry was given free rein to fill up the domestic market, and this task will be systematically resolved. The Russian Government intends to apply the same approach in other cases as well.
I deem it necessary to reveal to you the methods that the collective West recourses to in an attempt to maintain its hegemony and defend its model of new colonialism when raw materials, goods, technological and human resources are being pulled out of the economies of the rest of the world.
The war of sanctions against Russia is not over, it is in full swing, yet more and more people in the West are beginning to understand that the damage from sanctions is reciprocal. Often, those who impose restrictions suffer more than our economy. This is most evident in the case of hydrocarbons. Already now, all those who want to give up the supply of Russian oil are forced to overpay one and a half to two times buying it from other producers while our volumes of oil supplies to the market and jobs in that sector are not declining, because oil is still in demand.
The US attempts to replace Russian pipeline gas with marine supplies of its LNG to Europe are also failing. It is with keen interest that we await the outcome of this story. Energy price increase in Germany and other countries is already averaging 50 per cent, while fuel oil prices are already up 94 per cent.
Instead of transition to "green" energy, coal mines are being reopened all over Europe, the population is encouraged to stock up on firewood, take shower less often, to use cars 2-3 times a week and offered other delusional ideas. It seems that politicians in Europe and America have gone insane and forgotten all about the upcoming elections. The events of this year, if they continue in the same way, can turn over the political landscape in those countries, as was shown by the last parliamentary elections in France or the most recent resignation of the British Prime Minister.
At the same time, our foreign economic policy will continue to be restructured towards friendly countries. The government is creating favourable conditions for the reorientation of large projects to increase mutually beneficial cooperation with the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America which will contribute to the creation of millions of new jobs.
We do not want to downplay the significance and possible consequences of the war unleashed against our country — the war that is economic, political, financial, propagandistic and biological at the same time, the war that has gone into a "hot" phase with threats of using nuclear weapons against us. The war aimed at the destruction of our State and our people. And we do not intend to be defeated in that war!
Losses and difficulties are inevitable, as are the new opportunities and strategic benefits. We are fully aware that it is not about the territory of Ukraine, and not even about the fate of the dollar. We are talking about a new world order, the collapse of the hegemony of one decision-making centre and of the financial pyramid it has built, about the transition to a new multipolar system.
In conclusion, I would like to thank my Chinese colleagues for their extensive preparatory and organisational work. As regards the draft Declaration, we see that our comments have been taken into account. We also have no objections to amendments in the Temporary Regulations. However, I would suggest changing the document's name. It has passed the test of time, so we propose to call it "Regulations of the BRICS Trade Union Forum", removing the word "Temporary" from its title.
Finally, we also suggest continuing efforts to institutionalise the status of the Trade Union Forum within the framework of BRICS.
Thank you for your attention.