Lukashenka has already chickened out.
Salihorsk miners and employees of Belaruskali declared their readiness for the strike in a meeting with independent journalists. Why are even the miners, always considered the working class elite, so dissatisfied with the situation in the country? Charter97.org discussed it with the leader of the REP trade union, Henadz Fiadynich.
- I am convinced that Salihorsk has people who work in difficult conditions and want a decent standard of living and earn more than they have today. Looking at salaries and people who are ready for specific actions, I wholeheartedly support them.
- Is there a political background for a strike?
- Yes. The events in the country contribute to their desire more. Today, the authorities show no respect for the working class. There are some curtsies towards the people as soon as election time approaches.
The events in the country trouble people regardless of where they work: in the public sector or at a private enterprise. I think that Belarusians have matured and are ready to demand not only higher living standards, but also political freedom.
- How severe does a working class long for changes? Are the Belarusian workers tired of Lukashenka's reign?
- We have to pay tribute to our people; they are very patient. As they say, a Belarusian is slow to saddle up but fast to ride. I can say that this also applies to our workers, but they are not going to forgive the authorities.
Who can one forgive the contract system? How can one forget the law on "parasites"? Can one just forget about these pension reforms when parents of many Belarusians have fallen into the trap of insurance record? The "people's power" damages the very people, doesn't it?
The Belarusians are morally tired of this constant talk on TV that nobody believes in. Besides, people have no information connected with the coronavirus. It turns out that we have already beaten it! People don't believe it, and they won't believe it. If the authorities lied once, they'll keep lying.
- Lukashenka has recently started visiting enterprises. What do you think the workers would say if they had a chance to speak out in the open?
- His trips are a pre-election move. He feathers his own nest to appear at large enterprises.
If workers had a chance to speak out, one might thank him for something, but others would offer him to retire. The government should work for the people, not vice versa.
- What are the main problem industries in Belarus you could name? Where do workers feel the worst?
- All major state enterprises receive assistance from the state: MAZ, Gomselmash, and MTZ. As for medium-sized enterprises, they also face all the problems.
Atlant has recently shown high sales of refrigerators. It's always been like this, especially in summer.
I do not mean that tomorrow all enterprises should become private. We need to modernize them, introduce new technologies, create jobs. Privatization should be gradual for people to understand that it will get better every day.
Maybe today we need to endure something, some problems, but be sure that the government will do everything for a worker, a teacher or a doctor for them to stay in the country and feel safe.
- You are an experienced representative of the trade union movement. How can one properly organize a strike to ensure the achievement of an objective?
- As for an economic strike, it must be announced at each enterprise separately: everyone will have their demands for an employer. An employer is currently unable to meet the demands of workers in this system. The system needs replacement. Therefore, citizens' demands must be political, we must seek a power change.
Today, the workers must declare: "We will not go to the elections if there are no representatives of opposition parties and movements in every election commission". Lukashenka has already chickened out and is afraid to see the result of real will of the Belarusians.
- Is a general strike possible in Belarus?
- It depends on the number and organization skills of people. Therefore, any event requires a good approach and order.
The main issue is the extent of the economic nature of demands. Are workers ready to stand not only for themselves but for the country, their children and their future?
Belarusians have the right to decide the future of their country. The authorities are only hired workers for their citizens. People have the right to seek changes in any way to develop and strengthen the country.
Today Belarus does not have an opportunity to hold any opinion polls, we can only read the tea leaves. However, the dissatisfaction of the civil society, the anger of workers, are surely ripening day by day. It goes much faster than the authorities expect. What can happen tomorrow? Many things may happen in our country before August 9. This time the authorities will not be able to get away with it.