20 April 2021, Tuesday, 6:24
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Ihar Komlik: Everything Smolders inside Workers' Collectives at Enterprises

Ihar Komlik: Everything Smolders inside Workers' Collectives at Enterprises
Ihar Komlik
Photo: praca-by.info

People will protest in one form or another.

Recently, 63 employees have resigned at the Minsk dairy # 1. The authorities immediately appointed a new CEO. The website Charter97.org spoke about the situation with Ihar Komlik, a representative of the Independent Trade Union of Radioelectronic Industry Workers (REP).

- What made the dairy workers go on strike against the management?

- I would not say that this is a strike, rather a protest action. The workers were forced to protest because, for almost a year now, the management of the dairy plant wanted to transfer employees to collective financial responsibility, although individual responsibility was concluded.

The workers feared that the enterprise had serious shortages, and collective financial responsibility leads to the fact that this is paid off to everyone. This did not suit them because, as practice shows at some other similar enterprises, shortages are often formed not through the fault of employees, but through the fault of others. Salaries there are not so high, and now they will be cut back through this responsibility.

The legislation provides that individual financial responsibility, shall we say, bears priority. Only where it is impossible to establish an individual is a collective one.

The dairy employees wrote a series of letters appealing not to apply the legislation. I myself assisted them in writing their appeals and provided legal justification. As a result, the employer put pressure on people, intimidated them with dismissal if they did not sign a new employment contract. Perhaps people are driven to the extreme that they took such a step.

- To what extent are the authorities afraid of such strikes?

- It is clear that he is afraid. It's one thing to drive with your hands and tell how to work, and another thing to do a specific job. There is an employee behind each process, and if there are no workers, then the enterprise will become four walls and metal in the form of machine tools that will simply stand. Will an ideologist or director be able to do all the work for everyone? Clearly not.

- What is happening in work collectives at other factories? What are the workers dissatisfied with in the first place?

- First of all, a worker shows dissatisfaction when his wages do not allow him to live with dignity as it is written in our labor code and the Constitution, when he cannot provide food and clothes to his young children.

Moreover, people are unhappy when they are not provided conditions for labor protection and safe work. There are many problems here. Many agree to work in harmful working conditions because it brings additional pay, an increase in wages. We, as a trade union, stand on the fact that it is better to have safe and healthy conditions than a person will receive some extra penny and then suffer from some kind of disease.

- How high is the level of discontent among workers in Belarus?

- Perturbations in labor collectives occur periodically. The most important thing is that this discontent does not disappear anywhere, it is dictated both by economic issues and, I would say, by human and social issues. In addition, disrespectful treatment of employees also annoys people.

Where the economy is already lame, and this is a fairly large number of enterprises, there are delays or reductions in wages. This is acquiring an already open character. Where an economic state is more or less maintained in different ways, including artificial ones, that is, the nuts are tightened in a certain way, a fire occurs on the peat bog, as it is fashionable now: smolders inside but there is no visual manifestation yet.

- The authorities are preparing massive layoffs of public sector workers: teachers, doctors, and the same housing and communal services employees. The reason is the lack of money in the budget. What can a policy of saving on people lead to?

- Any ill-considered actions of the authorities that are related to the well-being of people will lead to the fact that people will need to do something and, most likely, this will be participation in protests in one form or another.

- Since the beginning of the protests, we have seen workers from different enterprises join the strike. How did the protests affect the minds of people?

- The country is already ripe for some changes. It was the realization that the right to the possibility of choosing the new government was violated and led to protests.