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    RUSSIAN VICE-PREMIER TO HEAD THREE-PARTY COMMISSION ON SOCIAL, LABOUR RELATIONS?

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    MOSCOW, May 20 (RIA Novosti) - Vice-Premier Alexander Zhukov may be appointed to co-ordinate the activities of the trilateral commission on settlement of social and labour relations.

    "I think this is a good idea," President Vladimir Putin said while meeting Mikhail Shmakov, Chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, who had advanced Mr Zhukov's candidature to the post.

    Galina Karelova, a vice-premier in Mikhail Kasyanov's government, took the position of commission co-ordinator. Ms Karelova was appointed to the post by the presidential decree of July 21, 2003.

    "I request you as it is your prerogative to appoint the commission co-ordinator by a decree. There is only one vice-premier in the new government, i.e. Alexander Zhukov. I believe he should head the commission. However, it is up to you to decide, Mr President," said Mr Shmakov.

    Mr Putin approved of the idea.

    "I agree with you, in principle. The head of this commission must be a high ranking government official," said Mr Putin. He will have to deal with all the ministries and agencies, added the president.

    Mr Shmakov also suggested that Healthcare and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov should oversee the government segment of the three-party commission, which also involves trade union representatives and major companies.

    Trade unions and business have already advanced their candidates, according to Mr Shmakov.

    The president inquired about the commission's performance.

    "The commission's activities have stalled somewhat over the government restructuring, as its government segment has not been formed yet," admitted Mr Shmakov. "There are certain problems on the package of legislative initiatives, including on privileges and allowances, caused by the delimitation of duties between the federal, regional and municipal government bodies," said Mr Shmakov.

    The commission is unable to discuss these questions now and relevant draft laws submitted to the State Duma do not cover all the aspects of these problems as a result, according to Mr Shmakov. "We have signed appeals to the Duma committee on labour and social development and to the government. I have spoken to Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov about it. It is necessary to accelerate the formation of the commission," said Mr Shmakov.

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