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Working Conditions and Income

The Labor Law of the Mongolian People's Republic, enacted in 1973, set forth the framework governing working conditions, wages and benefits, and trade union activity for workers and employees. The labor of members of agricultural cooperatives was regulated by individual negdel charters; they were based on the Model Charter of the Union of Agricultural Associations, last amended in 1979, and on other legislation. The Labor Law and agricultural legislation emulated Soviet law.

Workers and employees had an eight-hour workday (six hours on Saturdays and on the eve of holidays), eight public holidays, and fifteen days' paid vacation. In 1989 some service collectives were experimenting with a five-day workweek to determine whether the country should change from a six-day to a five-day workweek. Those engaged in arduous labor worked seven-hour days. Overtime was restricted, with some exceptions for emergencies. Minors (ages sixteen to eighteen; some fifteen-year-olds could obtain permission to work) worked a seven-hour day, and they received thirty days' paid vacation; arduous labor for minors was prohibited. The Labor Law contained sanctions for those who violated labor discipline and incentives for outstanding work performances. Workers, employees, and negdel members received compulsory state social insurance, paid for by their employers or negdels. State social insurance provided benefits for temporary incapacity to work because of illness, pregnancy and birth; benefits for birth of a child and for burial; and pensions for old age, disability, and loss of a breadwinner. In addition, state social insurance funds maintained a system of rest homes, sanitoriums, resorts for workers and employees and their families, pioneer camps, and so forth. The retirement age for the entire work force was sixty years for men with twenty-five years' experience and fifty-five years for women with twenty years' experience. Employers provided funds, full pay, reduced work days, and leaves of absence in order to raise the professional and technical qualifications of workers and employees through study and training courses.

Because of the high percentage of women of childbearing age in the labor force, the Labor Law contained provisions to protect pregnant women and women with children younger than one year. Refusal to hire women, reduction of their earnings, or dismissal because of pregnancy or the existence of children were all illegal. With medical commission concurrence, pregnant and nursing mothers were eligible for a shortened workday and for transfer to lighter work; they were not eligible for night work, overtime, or business trips. Women received forty-five days' pregnancy leave and fifty-six days' birth leave; women who did not fully use their pregnancy leave could combine the remainder with birth leave. Mothers also could combine pre-partum and postpartum leave with annual leave. In addition, they could receive an additional six months of unpaid leave and retain their jobs. Nursing mothers were granted paid breaks of up to two hours per day to nurse infants younger than six months and one hour to nurse infants from six to twelve months. Workplaces with large numbers of female employees were required to provide facilities for nurseries, for kindergartens, for nursing mothers and infants, and for personal hygiene (see Position of Women).

National income in Mongolia in the 1980s was supposed to be distributed according to socialist principles contained in Article 17 of the Constitution (see Constitutional Framework). First, the state deducted from the social fund for "the expansion of socialist production, the creation of reserves, the development of public health and education, the maintenance of the aged and the disabled, and the satisfaction of the collective requirements of members of society." Second, the remainder of national income was distributed in accordance with the quality and quantity of labor, based on the socialist principle "from each according to his ability, to each according to his labor." Information on real wages and income, however, was scarce. Western sources estimated that 1985 per capita income was $880 based on gross domestic product (GDP) and $1,000 based on GNP. Mongolian sources referred to raising wages and income in percentage terms, but they rarely listed actual numbers. The Economic and Social Development Guidelines for 1986- 90 stated that during the Seventh Plan real income per capita rose by 12 percent, and they called for a 20-percent to 23- percent increase in monetary income during the Eighth Plan. Real income during the latter plan was to grow in part through wage increases and in part through such measures as reduction of electricity tariffs and a 30-percent increase in the minimum pension for negdel members.

Government statistics provided only limited information on salaries. For example, statistics on the growth rate of monthly average salaries for workers and employees indicated that salaries rose 44.2 percent between 1960 and 1985. Salaries of production workers rose 54 percent, and those of nonproduction employees rose 22.9 percent. No figures were available on the actual level of salaries. Average annual wages for negdel members rose from 474 tugriks in 1960 to 2,400 tugriks at the end of the 1970s.

Last Update: 2010-12-07