The origins of the Oil, Gas and Construction Workers' Union go back to 1906.
It was born 100 years ago in the flames of the first Russian Revolution at the oil plants in Baku and its development was not easy but ROGWU has many achievements to be proud of. It was banned, persecuted, re-born. It survived many mergers and it was several times divided into smaller units. There have been eight trade union congresses that were called the first ones.
Three major periods can be identified in the history of the Oil, Gas and Construction Workers' Union:
There had been hot debates before the Union was born. Revolutionary inspired oil workers wanted to bring together all the workers employed in the oil sector in to one powerful trade union, irrespective of the workers' profession and nationality. Another group of revolutionaries suggested setting up three smaller unions depending on the workshops where people worked: one for the workers of the oil-producing plants, another – for those working in the oil refineries and the third – for workers of mechanical plants and workshops. Nationalists insisted that trade unions should organize workers of the same nationality. In summer of 1906 the Union of Mechanical Plant Workers was set up, which relied on the workshop system. Later on the unions of boilers and drill workers were created. There were also attempts to establish unions in individual companies. Thus workers of the same oil field belonged to several different unions. At that time the oil workers came to face the task of setting up an association that would express the interests of wide groups of Baku workers employed in the oil sector and related facilities. November 7, 1906 is considered to be the official birthday of the new union. On that day the Baku governor gave a permission to set up "the Oil Industry Workers' Union" in Baku and adjacent districts. On the same date The Charter of the Union was approved by the authorities. From the very first days, the Union of Oil Industry Workers defended the interests of the workers, organized mass demonstrations demanding better economic and legal conditions, tried to organize workers and act together. It had to fight oil industrialists and the tsar government. The Union developed and turned into a strong powerful organization that for several years headed the workers' movement in Baku. The years of repressions against the union movement, which lasted from 1907 to 1911, weakened the organization for several years. But the Union was born.
The new period started after the February Revolution of 1917. The authority of the Union grew significantly at that time. It was actively engaged in organizing the workers, raising their awareness, making workers more actively involved in the union work. After the Soviet power was established, the trade unions started to play an important role in the state and public life of the country. The oil workers' unions of the cities of Groznyi and Baku restructured their work under the slogan "addressing the needs of the production process". Thus they organized workers to rebuild and develop the nationalized oil industry. In the 1920-s the sector was in a very bad state. The oil production was going down, there were practically no new wells drilled, the workers were looking for other employment and went on the dole. At that time the Oil Workers' Union was a member of the All-Rusian Mine Workers' Union and it started an emulation campaign to successfully fulfill the five-year plans. It initiated the movement of innovations, best-production practices, the need to work without unnecessary waste, to improve discipline. It took part in the campaigns aimed at eradicating illiteracy, improving the well-being of oil-workers and their cultural background.
The 1930-s witnessed massive repressions in the country. The trade unions suffered many losses, too. Most trade-union activists and functionaries were persecuted. All this was preceded by Josef Stalin's statement that there was a kind of crisis in the trade unions. During WWII the Oil Workers' Union contributed a lot to relocating plants to Eastern parts of the country, to evacuating the workers, finding them housing, arranging their living conditions in the new places. The trade unions led competitions aimed at uninterrupted delivery of fuel and lubricants to the fighting troops, they helped to deal with problems of ensuring supplies essential for the production process and meeting the needs of the workers. They contributed to training new workers who came to the plants to replace those drafted into the armed forces. Trade unions did their best to help the families of servicemen, those wounded and crippled in the war.
After the war the Union worked to address the task of re-building and further developing the national economy. It intensified its work aimed at improving working and living conditions of blue- and white collar workers, protecting their health, improving social services. The economic reform carried out at that time drew special attention - its purpose was to introduce better economic accountability and to better use available resources, improve working methods and labour remuneration. The Trade Union history is full of many positive traditions, which contributed a lot to its record. The Union chronicle has many vivid pages describing the achievements and lives of oil and gas workers. Time flew, priorities changed but the trade unions remained true to one principle in their work, that is to be always active when protecting social and economic interests of trade union members, creating healthy and safe working conditions at enterprises, contributing to better health of workers and their family members, solving housing problems, organizing the workers' vacation and leisure.
The political and economic reforms that started in the late 1980-s, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the emergence of the Russian Federation as an independent state made it necessary to restructure the trade union work, too. The Russian Oil, Gas and Construction Workers' Union was established in December 1990. That started a new stage in the life of the Union.