17 July 2019, Wednesday, 8:25
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Decree on 'Parasites': Authorities Play 'Belarusian Roulette'

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PHOTO: RADIO LIBERTY

It can “shoot” at the most unexpected moment.

A few days ago, workers in Minsk declared a strike, saying: "Our patience has run out." It turned out that the employees of the Minsk door manufacturing company VKT Construction had not been paid their wages for several months. As a result, the work of two workshops stopped.

Charter97.org journalists spoke with leader of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions Aliaksandr Yarashuk:

- Even according to the official statistics, the number of organizations that have wage arrears is constantly increasing. The employees of VKT Construction did not address us for help, but their situation in Minsk is far from unique.

For example, in early November, the problems at the Minsk plant of automatic lines named after Masherau were reported. People were not paid salaries for three months. In fact, the trouble is that workers are often afraid to talk about such things openly.

Probably, in the case of the door manufacturing enterprise, it became were simply unbearable for the people, and they decided to go on strike. Unfortunately, the official statistics do not reflect the real situation with salary payments, and in many similar cases at enterprises they try to silence the problem with all their might.

- In 1991, mass protests of workers took place in Minsk, which undermined the foundations of the Soviet power. Then people were left without livelihood and protests were the only way to change the situation. Does the situation of the workers remind you now of the situation in the early 90s? Can history repeat itself?

- I remember those events very vividly. Of course, those moments and verities are still remembered as the manifestation by the Belarusians of all the best qualities they had. First of all, human dignity.

The events of those years had their own historical prerequisites, conditions, but who knows, whether the Belarusians once again surprise the whole world with something like that ... The political course, the economic policies carried out by the authorities - they largely provoke the possibility of a repetition of similar events that happened 27 years ago.

- Very soon the decree on the "parasites" will come into force. The situation looks like employees of many enterprises could contribute to the lists of “parasites”, which should be ready by December 1. In your opinion, how can workers react to such inventions of the authorities?

- Now we can only guess what the decree on “parasites” will eventually lead to. What problems will it cause? Naturally, we still believe that this is a blatant violation of the rights of Belarusians. Its adoption does not even come close to what the current situation dictates. After all, Belarus is in the most difficult socio-economic situation.

It is necessary to urgently change the approach, and not tighten the screws, as the decree suggests. The authorities are tempted to engage in extortion from "parasites."

In my opinion, no one knows what could be the trigger for the emergence of social unrest. The Belarusian government is like a player in the “Belarusian roulette”: they have put a pistol to the temple, thinking whether it will shoot or not. In fact, it can “shoot” at the most unexpected moment.

Wrong economic policies, which need fundamental changes, can lead to serious unpredictable consequences, which, in my view, we should now avoid in every way in view of the challenges that the country faces. Such economic policy is really associated with the threat of loss of independence. After all, any independence has a real content, and above all we are talking about sustainable economic development.

- In the autumn in Belarus, a new Labor Code can be adopted, which can become almost the worst in the world. What can you say about the upcoming changes in the Labor Code?

- People constantly address our trade union. Problems with the payment of salaries, discrimination against workers - these are urgent problems. It is obvious that in Belarus there is a degradation of labor legislation. We are facing the threat of a new Labor Code, which will significantly change working conditions. The authorities want to make people completely powerless.

And this all happens in a situation where we know on whose side state trade unions play and in whose interests they pursue their policies. Here the independent trade unions brighten up the situation.

On the whole, the situation is very complicated. It is necessary to radically change the socio-economic policy in the country. Belarus is in dire need of changes in politics in general and in the socio-economic policy in particular.