Four-day working week 2019: who to be allowed to work less in Tatarstan?

A four-day working week can be tested in 44 Tatarstan enterprises that signed an agreement to participate in Labour Productivity Improvement national project

The federal test of the transition to a four-day working week can be done in 44 Tatarstan enterprises participating in Labour Productivity and Employment Support national project, sources close to the Tatarstan government claim. But the exact list of pilot zones will be probably known after the announced expanded meeting in the Russian Ministry of Labour. However, Tatarstan employers themselves are confused at the moment — will the 40-hour working week remain or will they have to distribute the workload for a 10-hour day? Head of the Tatarstan Ministry of Industry and Trade Albert Karimov is keeping silent at the moment.

New initiative

The liberal idea of introduction of a four-day working week is turning into practical discussions in federal departments. As it was said in the mass media citing Vice Minister of Economic Development Pyotr Zaselsky, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection would have a meeting in the next days where they would be discussing the possibility of introduction of a four-day working week in test mode. In his opinion, workers do nothing 30-40% of their time, this is why there is room for changing the working regime.

The Ministry of Labour is offering to launch the experiment in those enterprises that are in the national project aimed to improve labour productivity, the vice minister of economic development states. Tatarstan is precisely one of 30 regions participating in Labour Productivity and Employment Support national project. According to official data of the Tatarstan Ministry of Industry and Trade, 44 2nd-3rd-level enterprises from different cities have joined it — Kazan, Naberezhnye Chelny, Almetyevsk, Mendeleyevsk. They can’t be called mass in number of employees, the revenue of their majority varies from 50 to 500 million rubles. However, there are several core enterprises among them that accumulate over 5,000 workers. First of all, it is factories from Zelenodolsk the Gorky Zelenodolsk Factory JSC and the Sergo Production Association JSC, the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Factory and the Karpov Chemical Plant from Mendeleyevsk. According to the programme, workforce productivity in these enterprises is to increase by 5% by 2024. As strange as it might sound, KAMAZ isn’t participating in this federal national project. However, there are a lot of Chelny enterprises among the participants — Remdizel JSC, TEMPO Kama Steelworks Factory, Tatprof, RIAT.

“According to the published information, these enterprises can become a site to test the transition to the reduced working week,” the sources close to the government claim. The official position isn’t made public.

“We don’t have such information,” the Tatarstan Ministry of Labour and Social Protection said. Head of the Tatarstan Ministry of Industry and Trade preferred to keep silent too: “I am busy, at a meeting,” he briefly answered to the question about the prospects of the experiment in Tatarstan enterprises.

Head of CCI Shamil Ageyev: “It is just rubbish”

However, head of the Tatarstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shamil Ageyev gave to understand that the republic wouldn’t like to participate in it because “it is just rubbish”. “Don’t ask me questions about the four-day working week, it is rubbish,” he retorted quickly.

In his opinion, those enterprises that are having difficulties with a load of production capacity. According to him, this way employers will get rid of the necessity to reduce the staff, distribute the production load among them but reduce the working week by one day. Indeed, GAZ, which faced difficulties in car sales, has recently announced the possibility of using such a scenario to keep the staff. KAMAZ hasn’t announced such measures yet.

It should be reminded that a sensational statement about the possibility of introduction of a reduced working week in Russia was made at the International Labour Conference in Geneva in June. Delivering a speech there, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev noted that technological progress allowed to reduce the working time by increasing workforce productivity. At that moment Dmitry Medvedev cited Henry Ford’s experience who reduced the working week from 48 to 40 hours 100 years ago and got a sudden rise in productivity.

“Of course, it is very complex, unfinished ideas — serious discussions should be held ahead,” the Russian premier added.

After that, head of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions Mikhail Shmakov supported the transition to the reduced working week. Late last week Dmitry Medvedev assured at a meeting with him that the transition doesn’t have to be accompanied by a reduction of salary.

Will 40-hour working week stay or will we switch to 10-hour day?

Tatarstan companies are concerned about the experiment that’s being prepared.

“When we signed the agreement with the Tatarstan Ministry of Industry and Trade on participation in Labour Productivity and Employment Support national project, we hoped to introduce careful production tools,” Tekhnotron-Metiz company told Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent. “We were ready to improve workforce productivity considering the current working regime. Nothing has been discussed with us, if the 40-hour working week will remain or whether the working day will increase to 10 hours.”

Director General of Vacuummash JSC Yevgeny Kapustin, who also signed the agreement on participation in the national project, refused to comment. We should note that the list of Tatarstan participants in the national project is constantly expanding. If it had just 29 companies in March, now the group of enterprises that took on the fight for higher productivity has risen to 44. It has grown thanks to Kazan companies Aromat JSC, Safplast, Kazmetrostroy JSC and Alabuga Industrial SEZ JSC from Yelabuga.

Independent experts are critical about the test.

“This experiment will give nothing,” Nikita Krichevsky is sure. “If only the experiments were held on hydrogen atoms or mice, here there are people. But shareholders have the right not to participate in it or work according to the established business plan,” he thinks. “Like in case with self-employed people, the government must adopt a regulation, so it won’t happen sooner than 1 January,” he concluded.
By Luiza Ignatyeva