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Employees Owed $136 Million in Unpaid Wages

Wage arrears rose 15.5 percent in January as corporate credit remained tight and government spending slowed, the State Statistics Service said Monday.

Total unpaid wages rose to 4.1 billion rubles ($136 million), the service said.

“We have weak unions compared with Western Europe,” Tatiana Orlova, an economist at ING Bank, said Monday before the report was released. Companies aren’t afraid to delay salary and utility payments when funding is tight, she said. “Loans are increasing, but companies are still experiencing some difficulties with funding.”

Corporate loans fell 0.3 percent in January, according to central bank preliminary data that excludes Sberbank. The government posted a budget surplus of 2.4 percent of gross domestic product in January, when spending is traditionally low.

Orlova said higher government spending in December helped businesses that had government contracts repay wage arrears. Total unpaid wages fell last month to 3.6 billion rubles, according to the statistics agency.

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