Russia: Labour Educator Training Project

In collaboration with the Institute of Perspectives and Problems of the Country (IP)

Context :

A major legacy of the collapse of the Soviet system was the fragility if civil society which lacked experience of independent organization. It followed that the successful transition to democracy in Russia depended in first place on strengthening civil society. A key element of civil society in modern market economies is the labor movement.

The project was aimed at offering training to worker educators, and through them to the broad membership of unions, in the skills and knowledge required for the effective functioning of democratically-run trade unions in the new economic systems. Besides courses on the democratic functioning of trade-unions and effective representation of members’ interests, the School for Worker Democracy offered courses and publications focusing both on the workplace and the community in the areas of human rights, gender equity and women’s rights, health and safety, environmental protection, civic education, and social policies particular concern to workers and the union movement.



  • To strengthen the Russian union movement as a domestic actor in the developing civil society and the promotion of a law-based state;
  • To facilitate the adaptation of Russian trade union movement to the emerging market economy and changing economic and political conditions;
  • To promote progressive trade union education in general.


  • The development of the skills and knowledge of labor educator;
  • The training of labour educator in the areas and about issues relating to the running of democratic labour movement in a market economy;
  • Providing unions with a model of progressive labour pedagogy and with educational materials;
  • Promoting exchange of information and experiences between Canadian and Russian unions.



  • 29 three to four-day seminars were held for 814 labour activists and educators (397 women, i.e. 48%), plus 4 half-day seminar attended by 56 people, for a total of 2 554 person-day of training;
  • 2 four-day seminars were held for 68 government officials (38 women and 30 men);
  • 6 self-contained daily workshops were held for 58 private -sector managers (16 women and 42 men participated)
  • 9 labour seminars were held in Moscow and 20 outside Moscow; the government and business seminarswere held near Moscow;
  • 2 study labour tours of Canada were organized for 15 key Russian labour educators (6 woman and 9 men) in 1997 and 1999 respectively , each lasting 10 working days;
  • Production and distribution of: 29 labour, 2 government and 2 private-sector seminar kits (1500 copies printed); 38 thematic booklets of which 18 were on new subjects and 20 were reprints (37 000); 22 bi-monthly bulletins (19000) and one training manual (4000).


  • 814 participants have attended the seminars thus far, and 56 the half-day sessions from 17 trade sectors and 13 different regions of Russia, achieving a greater understanding of labour market economy;
  • 126 governmental officials & private sector managers aware & knowledgeable of legitimate roles of trade unions in market economy and democratic society and the role of government in settling labour disputes;
  • A far greater interest in, and understanding of, labour education and trade union among rank and file and union leaders due to the seminars, follow-up, labour tour and publications;
  • New linkages established between Canadian and Russian labour educator, unions and federations, through the labour tours of Canada unions and Canadian labour expert providing training at seminars in Russia. Continued support of Canadian unions in 2001-2002, particularly with 100 000 CAD contribution to the Schools in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus from the Canadian Auto Workers’Social Justice Fund.

1996 - 2001