MOSCOW, October 4 (RIA Novosti) – A prominent Russian cosmonaut on Friday won 1.4 million rubles ($43,500) in back wages from a Moscow Region space training center in a landmark ruling that is expected to see a total of 14 cosmonauts paid wages they had been promised for additional training work.
Col. Sergei Volkov, who leads a division of cosmonauts at the state-run Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, sued his employer for an accrual of bonuses, each stipulated as 120 percent of his 88,450 ruble ($2,700) monthly salary.
According to Friday’s ruling – made by a court in the same town as the cosmonaut center – Volkov should also be paid such bonuses for future training of would-be cosmonauts. The center is also compelled to pay 55 percent bonuses to lower-ranking trainers.
The center had refused to pay the bonuses based on the logic that Volkov, 40, was already being paid a military pension in addition to his base salary, the cosmonaut’s legal team said. Volkov, backed by 13 colleagues, said the employer simply did not want to pay the bonuses, set out by a government decree last year.
Volkov, who according to NASA logged about 200 days in space including aboard the International Space Station, was “representing all military cosmonauts” in his lawsuit, fellow cosmonaut Sergei Zaletin told the Izvestia newspaper.
Ahead of this week’s hearing, a spokeswoman for the cosmonaut center told RIA Novosti that the case would set a “precedent for about a dozen of our employees.” When reached by phone Friday, the spokeswoman said there was no plan to appeal.
The head of the center, Sergei Krikalev, told Izvestia that there was “no conflict, but a lack of clarity.” He added, “We are trying to clarify the government’s decree.”