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Title: ロシアにおける賃金未払問題の再検討
Other Titles: Non-Payment of Wages in Russia
Authors: 杉浦, 史和1 Browse this author
Authors(alt): Sugiura, Fumikazu1
Issue Date: 2003
Publisher: 北海道大学スラブ研究センター
Journal Title: スラヴ研究
Journal Title(alt): Slavic Studies
Volume: 50
Start Page: 177
End Page: 202
Abstract: The problem of non-payment in Russia has been a notorious epidemic since the start of its transition from a centrally planned economy to a market-based economy. Though the economic reforms in 1990s were to establish a monetary economy, they led to such 'demonetizations,' as widespread barter deals. Non-payment can also be viewed as one of the widespread forms of demonetization. There are five forms of nonpayment: the non-payment between enterprises, between the government and enterprises, between banks and enterprises, from the pension fund to pensioners, and from enterprises to workers. This article analyzes the formation and development of the non-payment problems by focusing on the evolution of the non-payment of wages in Russia. With the widespread demonetization and non-payment of wages, the situation grew worse and the population has been seriously affected. However, one of the most serious aspects of wage arrears lies in the fact that it is almost impossible to resolve the problem by utilizing quasi-money, such as payments in kind, or the pseudo-settlement mechanisms, such as zachet or offsets. The payment of wages, in principle, should be made in cash as should be wage arrears. Therefore, there have been relatively few cases of wages being paid in kind between enterprises. This means the wage debts have piled up continuously and will likely grow much larger. Second, whether workers necessary receive wages promptly is directly related to the amount of their disposable income to assure standard of living. With wage arrears, workers can get smaller incomes and their living standard falls. That is why the non-payment of wages is one of the most serious phenomena of the demonetizations. Third, it is widely believed that the non-payment of wages prevents the restructuring of enterprises, because even without laying off the excess labor, the enterprises can reduce their payroll costs through wage arrears. Indeed it reflects the malfunction of the labor market in Russia. The non-payment of wages peaked just after the August crisis in 1998. Both the federal and local governments were responsible for 15 to 20 percent of the total non-payment of wages. The federal government owed army salaries and payments for state orders for the military complex, while the local governments owed wages for workers in the education, health, and other sectors. The remaining part of wage arrears was responsible for enterprises' themselves. In the public sector, the non-payment of wages takes place because the government, especially local governments, are eager to maintain the regional level of employment regardless of their severe budget constraints. Despite the wage arrears, local governments maintain employment levels with the help of federal transfers and subsidies. At the same time, even though the federal government provides the financial resources to respond to the local authorities' requests for aid, the latter do not necessarily allocate those funds properly. The local governments have an interest to maintain a certain level of wage arrears in the region. In the private sector, our analysis of the wage payment from the viewpoint of both managers and workers found that the managers do not pay primarily because of the lack of working capital. The widespread demonetizations mean a shortage of cash for salaries. They cannot but delay the the payment of wages. Even if there is cash revenue, the payment of taxes should have a higher priority. The government tries to pursue the cash revenue. For instance the effective tax rate to the tax delinquent enterprises was as much as 100%. The second aspect of management behavior concerns the exploitability of wage non-payment. Because of wage arrears, the firms ask the government for subsidies while the local government has good reason to believe this necessary to prevent social unrest. If the managers know workers will not move in spite of the wage arrears, then wage non-payment becomes a lower priority. On the contrary, wage nonpayment can guarantee that workers will not be laid off, due to the expensive severance pay. They also assure that the enterprise will continue to supply social services. Lastly demonetizations complicate the economic situation of the firm manager and workers alike. This enables the managers to manipulate financial flows in their favor and to embezzle funds with ease. Next follows an explanation for why managers prefer the nonpayment of wages to layoffs. One reason is the harsh legal environment for layoffs in Russia. Firms have to pay 3-months of serverance pay. Second, they want to retain their labor force, because they are optimistic about the near future and believe that they have to maintain their labor force for the anticipated increase in demand. It has also become clear that non-payment of wages can be used to differentiate the labor force. Some get wages promptly, some with a 1-month delay, and some with a 3-month delay. By so doing managers can segregate employees. But that does not mean they want to dismiss the least skilled workers, rather through the non-payment of wages, they can reduce their wage taxes. The third question concerns why they are not eager to decrease salary levels while the wage arrears pile up. That is because inflation works as a tool to discount the debt. The wage bills tended to inflate under the pressure of the insider-employees, but inflation discounts the value of these wages. The national wage tariff system also plays an important role in preventing wage adjustments. There is a downward rigidity of wages in Russia. Workers accept wage arrears. First, employees have no legal recourse against wage arrears. Second, labor unions are so weak and fragmented that they have no clout. Workers do not move despite the wage arrears because the housing market in Russia is not developed and it is very expensive to move for a new job, especially out of town. Third, without wages, employees often pilfer from enterprises to provide materials for their own side businesses. At the same time, continued employment at a formerly state-owned enterprise means they remain eligible for social services. Although managers and workers are in the state of confrontation, they have a common desire to exploit wage arrears. For the workers it is more beneficial to exploit wage arrears than to change jobs. In this sense, they provide an element of cohesion. This is the main reason why wage arrears continue to accumulate. In our analysis of the role played by labor unions, we have found that there are two types of unions in Russia. Traditional labor unions have common interests with their enterprise managers. Both tend to appeal in critical situations to the local government for support. In contrast, newly established unions are more radical and take legal action to secure proper wage payments. These two types of unions often work in opposition to each other. Such divisions prevent the development of an effective alliance against management. We cannot neglect one of the important aspects of the non-payment of wages. This is the social and historical background surrounding enterprises. We all know that the Soviet Union tried to separate its monetary circulation into two parts: cash and non-cash. Workers received cash wages to meet the needs of their daily economic life, mainly in the retail sphere. At the same time people did not pay for health care services, for example, because those services were provided by their place of employment. That was a non-monetary side of Russian economic life. The extension of the monetary economy in Russia remains quite limited even after the transition. Workers are more sensitive to losing these non-monetary benefits from enterprises than to losing their wages. With wage arrears, people have to make ends meet by using networks of relatives and friends and by growing their own food, making the Russian economy more and more non-monetary. Enterprises in Russia are quite important for both employers and employees, not because they are capital assets that can create profits, but because they serve as hosts for a variety of parasitic activities: managers can get cash flow while workers can get both cash flow and social services. For the Russians it is quite natural to remain in an enterprise that regularly cannot meet payroll. This explains the paradoxical non-payment of wages during the economic transition of the Russian Federation. Both workers and managers can gain, not lose, from the non-payment of wages.
Type: bulletin (article)
Appears in Collections:スラヴ研究 = Slavic Studies > 50

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