11 Jan 2010 15:22

Unemployment is main social problem in Russia

GORKI. Jan 11 (Interfax) - Unemployment will be one of the biggest Russian problems this year, but the slow recovery of the labor market should not be an excuse, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told head of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions Mikhail Shmakov.

"Unemployment will remain the biggest social problem of this country," he said.

"We must continue joint efforts and ease tensions on the labor market that intensified last year," he said.

It will be difficult for the labor market to recover, Shmakov remarked. "True, the labor market has the slowest recovery from the crisis, but this must be no excuse for our inactivity," the president said.

"We must steadily create jobs and do public works," he said. Public works had a positive effect last year.

The official unemployment rate in Russia stood at 2.05 million at the end of last year. "Unemployment may continue to grow for the next six months because recovering industries need time to create jobs," Shmakov said.

He welcomed the reduction of salary debts in Russia.

Shmakov also urged the ratification of several conventions of the International Labor Organization. Medvedev said he had given related instructions, and the government was preparing to sign some of the conventions in the near future.

Medvedev also said he signed a number of related documents last year.