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Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Belarus Faces a Unique Strike of Workers

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Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Belarus Faces a Unique Strike of Workers

The Russian edition wrote about the situation at the Belarusian factories.

The Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta published an article by the leader of the Belarusian Workers' Association (BOR) Siarhei Dyleuski about the pre-strike situation in Belarus:

- Nothing has changed at the Belarusian factories since Soviet times. Five-year plans, the carrot-and-stick system, and even soda machines are still present in factories. But, perhaps, the main problem of Belarus is the violation of human rights. This happens in the country every day and everywhere. Safety precautions and working conditions at workplaces are not observed (recently people are dying at enterprises especially often), workers are forced to perform other people's official duties. In addition, wage violations are a widespread problem. An employee of the Minsk tractor plant, for example, can count on $16 for a shift and $320 for a month.

There is no reason to hope for bonuses and allowances since they are directly managed by the management. This is where violations begin: if a worker at an enterprise tries to assert his own rights, he is simply deprived of bonuses. There is also the ideological work. The administration tries in every possible way to convince people that the arrival of the new government will not only make the situation worse but will make it considerably worse. According to the so-called executives-appointees, enterprises miraculously remain "alive" only thanks to the state, which values dozens of workers and will not throw them out on the street. In general, such propaganda is aimed at the older generation, but it does not affect the youth.

The main task of the Belarusian Workers' Association is to solve the problems of workers at enterprises and begin to defend the rights of workers. In fact, these issues should be dealt with by our independent or even pro-government trade unions, but, unfortunately, all they are doing today is functioning within the framework of what is permitted. That is, all their work comes down to the fact that they come to work, drink tea, and calmly return home in the evening.

Together we can achieve positive results. A pre-strike state has already been declared in Belarus. The decision to strike is a decision of the people and the result of six months of work by the Belarusian Workers' Association. Undoubtedly, the actions of the authorities last year contributed to people being afraid to go on strike, but now the situation has changed. The Belarusian Workers' Association has raised leaders not only at every enterprise but also in every division.

After such painstaking work and careful preparation, it is in our power to stop the factories. Experience is key in any strike, so it cannot be said that last year's strike was unsuccessful. Yes, the authorities had enough power resources to suppress it, drown out the voices of the workers, but we did not have enough experience to resist this. We went out on emotions - there are many of us, we can do it. But now only a clear, well-developed plan can win the confrontation.

The new strike format will help keep workers safe. We propose simply not to physically go to work, without marches through the territory of enterprises, without meetings near workshops. We don't need to show our majority in this way. We do not need physical contact between workers and security officials. The whole country will stay at home, safe. The machine will not be started until we meet our requirements.

The path to victory over the regime rests on three pillars: sanctions, strikes, and protests. Sanctions alone, for all their importance and necessity, cannot by themselves overthrow Lukashenka. We should not stand aside and rely only on measures introduced by other countries.

Lech Walesa, to whom the Belarusian Workers' Association is partly indebted for its appearance, said one simple thing: “Nobody will allow you to register any association in your country - even a trade union, even a cell. Act on your own, like partisans, without any bureaucracy. And so we did. Although, we are now going through the registration procedure in Poland, not for the very fact of opening a legal entity, but in order to establish cooperation with the International Labor Organization.

And one more very important piece of advice was given by Walesa: "You cannot demand Lukashenka’s resignation even through the strike. Demand negotiations."

Therefore, the main goal of the Belarusian strike is negotiations. Negotiations with Lukashenka's entourage can be conducted on holding new fair presidential and parliamentary elections. Representatives of all spheres must certainly participate in the negotiations - not only politicians but also workers, doctors, athletes, teachers, and scientists. The outcome of the negotiations should be the determination of the format and timing of the change of power. The beginning should be the release of political prisoners.