Are there trade unions in Soviet higher education establishments and, if so, what do they do?

Grigori Reznichenko ::: Young people in the USSR. Answers to questions

Trade unions do exist in the colleges and univer­sities, and 996 students out of every 1,000 are members of them. Students and the teaching staff belong to the same union.

No important issue is resolved without the trade union: the enrollment of new students, job place­ment of graduates, administration of student grants provided by the state, and hostel and recreation fa­cilities.

For a 12-day holiday, including full board and lodging at a holiday home, a student pays only 7 roubles (about 10 U.S. dollars). In reality, of course, such a holiday costs much more. The difference is made up by the union from state social insurance funds. These funds are noncontributory, not only for students but for any worker in the USSR. The union receives the money for social insurance bene­fits from the state social insurance budget which runs into 30,000 million roubles a year. A college or university trade union organisation also has its own funds, made up primarily of the monthly dues paid by students and members of the teaching staff.

This comes up to one per cent of salary or student grant. One-third of the dues paid by the staff goes into the budget of the Central Council of Soviet trade unions, while the dues paid by students remain wholly at the disposal of the local trade union committee.

The main purpose of a college trade union is to provide each student and member of the staff with I lie opportunity to take part in deciding all college affairs. Each member can go to the local trade un­ion committee for advice or help or submit proposals which will be carefully examined. For the student,

I he trade union provides another opportunity for direct participation in public life.

A few words about the structure of the trade un­ion organisation. The smallest unit is the student group, headed by a trade union organiser. That is, of course, an elected post. At the next level is the unit for all students of the same year, and then- Ihe unit of the same department. Each has its own trade union bureau. And at the top is the college, or university, trade union committee to which anyone can be elected. The guiding principles of trade union activities are: no secrecy-full publicity in everything done; the right to elect and be elected to any post; freedom of opinion; and the minority abiding by all decisions passed by the majority. These principles ensure full democracy in I lie unions.

In college a student studies not only literature, mathematics or whatever subject he has chosen for Ins degree. College is his apprenticeship for mature riiizenship. Not for nothing do all students take a course in philosophy and other social sciences that help to shape a politically mature individual, one with his own views on life. But having one's own view is not all. It will mean nothing if one does not have the opportunity to put one's views into prac­tice. That is where the trade union comes in.