Leading enterprises have found themselves in a profound crisis.
Over the past two months, many Belarusian plants and factories have faced serious problems due to sanctions and the war in Ukraine. Among them are the loss of sales markets, a logistics crisis, and a lack of supplies of spare parts and components for production and equipment repairs. All this results in shop shutdowns as early as today.
Independent experts believe it is the most severe crisis for the Belarusian industry since the early 1990s.
Charter97.org collected the latest information from the main enterprises of the country.
Minsk Tractor Plant
At the end of March, Britain imposed sanctions on Minsk Tractor Plant. These and other sanctions, imposed on dual-purpose enterprises for the involvement of Lukashenka's regime in the war against Ukraine, worsened the already deplorable state of the enterprise.
MTZ tractors run on imported engines, so the enterprise has faced a shortage of spare parts for the machinery. MTZ also had to look for alternative markets. A lot of products used to be shipped to Ukraine, EU countries and the USA.
It also known that the management of Minsk Tractor Plant signed a contract to supply tractors and spare parts to the LPR and DPR.
Salaries at the enterprise are falling.
Minsk Automobile Plant
In March, Minsk Automobile Plant lost its top ranking among Ukrainian consumers. In April, it finally left the group of leaders. It was one of the key markets for MAZ.
The workshops are overloaded with finished products. The assembly lines have no spare parts. MAZ employees have recently begun earning 11% less.
Early this year, the BelAZ mining equipment manufacturer took a $9.5 million loan from Belarusbank. It was an export loan "to pay for BelAZ mining equipment". That is, to supply dump trucks abroad. But BelAZ is unable to repay the loan. It is now compensated to the bank from the budget. It turns out that ordinary citizens have to pay for this strange maneuver.
Also, plant workers say BelAZ is shipping "bicycles" (dumper trucks without engines - editor's note) in large quantities. "Until September, the load is high, all without engines. There are no more orders," he specified.
Minsk Engine Plant
This plant has already faced a disastrous situation. Sales have dropped and there are no plans to supply components because of sanctions. It has affected salaries: workers do not know how to support their families.
Belarusian Steel Works
The loss of the European market, to which the company sold 500 million dollars’ worth of products in 2020, turned out to be the most disastrous for the company.
It is impossible to compensate for the loss of this market. The BMZ's share in the Russian market was only 0.7% in 2020.
In the pipe rolling shop, the entire warehouse is full of pipes to be supplied to America. The main production facilities are loaded to no more than 50%. Workers of the Belarusian Steel Works say the enterprise is experiencing difficulties with supply of components and sales of the company's products. The workers were told that in May they were going to have seven shifts of downtime, while two more shifts of unpaid leave.
Due to sanctions and the logistical crisis, three out of five mines at Belaruskali are currently out of operation. The forced downtime is affecting wages. Workers' wages have dropped by about 30% in recent months. In March, the company turned to one of the state banks to finance the payment of workers' wages for the first time. To keep the workers busy, they are sent to clean the streets.
It is worth noting that the Soligorsk enterprise is one of the main suppliers of currency to the state budget.
Not everything is quiet at Grodno Azot either. Some shops have had to make an unscheduled shutdown.
It was also reported that loaded wagons started to go back.
It is worth noting that the loss of the Ukrainian market has hit the company rather hard. Another problem is the arrest of railcars on Ukrainian territory. Not long ago, Kyiv seized Belarusian railcars together with fertilizers.
Novopolotsk Refinery is partially "idle" as there is no sales and warehouses are full of finished products. Finished products are poured into tanks on wheels. Two thousand tank cars are already full and the railcars for light petroleum products are running out. Although Naftan was under sanctions, it still supplied its products to Europe with the assistance of the Ukrainian side. Now this route has been closed.
The refinery has temporarily suspended collective bargaining clauses that relate to financial aid for holiday recuperation, payments for anniversaries, two weeks' severance pay and an extra free day for parents.
The Mozyr Refinery has to arrange repair work due to full stockpiles.
There is disturbing information about the almost-built H-oil plant, which costs over a billion dollars. The unit, which the management has been proud of for so many years, never started up, is being prepared for mothballing.
Mozyr refinery employees receive only their salary and a bonus; other types of allowances have been suspended.
Belarus' largest pharmaceutical company, which used to export about 80% of its production and distribute 20% to the domestic market, is also experiencing hard times.
Belmedpreparaty employees say some of the workshops are now only partially functional. Many have been sent home with two-thirds of their salaries.