A wave of indignation has swept across the Belarusian enterprises.
A riot seems to be ripening at the Hlybokaye milk cannery, where 800 people work. Instead of money, the company wants to pay the workers with defective products - sterilized milk and sour cream.
Unfortunately, bankrupt enterprises, employees without salaries or those paid with products instead of money have been reported increasingly more often in Belarus recently.
Charter97.org asked professional lawyer, well-known legal labor inspector of the independent trade union of the radio-electronic industry workers in the Homel region Leanid Sudalenka to comment on the situation:
- Workers of the Hlybokaye Milk Canning Plant need to take an employment contract, or contract between the employer and the employee, and carefully read about the form of payment. If it says that the employer has the right to partially pay off the employee with defective sour cream and milk, then this is legitimate. I am deeply convinced that the employment contract says that the payment can only be done with money.
Accordingly, the employee has the right to refuse products and further apply to the court for the recovery of wages. I emphasize that employees have every right to disagree. The law is on their side.
We have already experienced payment of wages with spoiled products in the 90s of the last century. Apparently, the practice of the dashing 90s returned to Hlybokaye. Although, then it’s worth remembering how in 1991 a nationwide strike began in Belarus.
- In Belarus, there have recently been more cases of salaries being paid with products, or non-payment of money for months at all. What does this say about the general situation in the country?
- Everything is simple - the country is being pushed over the edge. Tomorrow they may stop paying wages at all! Unfortunately, the Belarusian economy, once again, has shown its non-viability in the market conditions. Our country sticks to the planned economy that cannot exist today. It had outlived itself a long time ago.
The fact that so far the government has managed to pump money into enterprises does not mean that tomorrow there will be such an opportunity. That time has passed. Everything is changing rapidly and the authorities have lost time when it was still possible to create new jobs, attract investments and produce competitive products, and not just drive goods to the warehouse. It turns out that people come to enterprises, work, and the products are not in demand. This is savagery! What is happening in Hlybokaye is a vivid confirmation of my words.
- The plant in Hlybokaye employs 800 people. What should those who have children, loans do? After all, school supplies can not be bought for expired sour cream …
- Personally, I see several options. People can go into self-employment. Maybe someone is ready to leave to work in the EU countries. Another option is to fight for their rights, to defend the interests of the family by all legal means.
- What concerns the people who come to you as an inspector of the REP trade union most of all?
- The hottest topic right now is a lack of money. Many cannot simply feed their families for the salaries they receive. Not to mention saving even a small amount of money. In general, the most urgent problem in Belarus today is to feed the family and survive in these conditions.
The Belarusian economy is collapsing at all fronts. It showed its non-viability. I think many have already realized that the situation needs to be radically changed. The model chosen by the Belarusian leadership is failing.
Belarusians need to get their salaries, go to independent trade unions, which are ready to give a hand. We need to remember our history. We can fight back.