12 August 2020, Wednesday, 9:54
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Rebellious BelNPP Workers Take On Astravets Central Square

Rebellious BelNPP Workers Take On Astravets Central Square

The workers haven’t been paid their wages for months.

About 50 workers from Russia have taken on the central square in Astravets on August 15. They demand payment for the two months of work, Radio Svaboda reports.

On August 15, the working agreements of several dozen hired installation workers, who worked at the construction of the Belarusian NPP, expired. They claim they were hired via the Russian company Stroyinvestproyekt, located in St.Petersburg. Herein, there is another company indicated on their plastic badges - the JSC “Sezam”.

According to the workers, the employer paid for the rented accommodation in a timely manner, and paid them daily. When it came to the actual salary, however, it turned out there was no money.

“We have nothing to eat, when will we get paid?”

“There are about 90 of us here with the same problem,” one of the Russians, Alexander Lychiov, told Radio Svaboda in the center of Astravets. “50 people have come here, to the Lenin monument, these are the most desperate guys. You see, we have no money at all, I cannot even pay the subscription fee to continue using my cell phone. I contacted you via internet at home, the owner turned on the wifi for us. We have addressed to you because we are on the verge. We don’t know what to do next.”

About 50 workers have come to the Lenin monument in the central square in Astravets. They are telling their stories, interrupting each other, but all the stories are practically the same. They were hired to work in the Russian company Stroyinvestproyekt, arrived in Astravets for a special-shift work, worked for two months and did not receive the promised money.

“We have nothing to eat, when will we get paid?” Alexander continues. “Now they are telling us, go back home, to Russia, then we will probably pay you. But we realize we will never see this money if we go home. We went here, because, like, it’s Belarus, a serious state construction project. No one could even think they would fool us this way here.”

The workers voice different sums that righteously belong to them. In the case of Alexander Lychiov, it’s approximately RUR 62 K (about $ 1 K). There are bigger sums, up to RUR 85 K, and smaller sums as well. Apart from the desire to get the earned money, all the Russians who have come to the center of Astravets are united by at least two more problems - the rented accommodation in Astravets of the most of them is paid till the nearest Monday, they have hundreds or thousand kilometers of the way back home, but they don’t have enough money even to get to Smarhon, where the Astravets Prosecutor’s Office send them.

“We have absolutely no idea of what to do now,” another Russian is saying. “We went to your Prosecutor’s Office, they gave us a paper with some address in Smarhon. Like, go there, this is a local Labor Inspection. They say, if we don’t have the working agreements, they cannot help us. Our taskmaster says we need to figure things out with the company in St.Petersburg that hired us, they advise us to go back to Russia, and the staff of the Minsk branch of “Sezam” JSC say nothing at all. What shall we do? We came here for earnings, we have families, loans to repay. We need to buy our kids stuff for the new school year, September 1 is coming.”

As a proof that they are related to the construction of the Astravets NPP, the workers demonstrate plastic gate passes which stopped working since August 15. All of them bear the logo of the “Sezam” JSC. As for the fact that they did not make official working agreements with the employing company, it is easily explained - the employers promised to pay more this way, than in the case of official employment.

“Shall we go to Lukashenka or what?” Alexander Lychiov says. “Please advise where we could go. We have come here, we can go to the Prosecutor’s Office once again. We have nothing to lose. If we go to Russia now, no one will pay us, this is for sure. The only chance that we have to get this money is to stay in Belarus until we are paid.”