6 July 2022, Wednesday, 3:03
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Siarhei Dyleuski: Hunger Riots Await Belarus

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Siarhei Dyleuski: Hunger Riots Await Belarus

A lot of businesses will simply shut down.

The leadership of independent trade unions in Belarus has been detained. Why has the Lukashenka regime decided to start repressions against organizations of workers' rights? This is what leader of the Belarusian Association of Workers Siarhei Dyleuski told Charter97.org:

- Everything was coming to this. I have repeatedly stated that there will be repressions against the organizations that defend workers' rights. The detention of Yarashuk, searches and arrests in the primary organizations are a logical result of the Lukashenka regime's actions.

I should also note that when the Belarusian Association of Workers went on strike, there was no support as such from these leaders. Comrade Yarashuk, for unknown reasons, spoke out against going on strike in Belarus. He did not explain the reasons for his decision. As the head of the Belarusian Congress of Independent Trade Unions he has some weight, so the other trade union organisations did not support us at that time either. A strike could have helped to avoid these repressions.

- Do you expect the reaction of international organizations and trade unions to the situation with the labor movement in Belarus?

- I am sure there should be some reaction. The International Labor Organization, as well as the independent trade unions in the West, which are really independent - European, American, - they are simply obliged to respond to the situation. It is quite possible that this will lead to new sanctions packages, new levers of pressure on the junta. Also, we ourselves should express solidarity and support to our comrades behind bars.

- What do Belarusian workers tell you about the situation at their enterprises?

- The situation is simply depressing. A number of enterprises simply can't function normally because of Russia's military actions in Ukraine, because of sanctions. There is no turnover, no procurement of spare parts, no components for manufactured products. After all, it is no secret that very few Belarusian companies can fully produce certain products. Those, who can, now have no opportunity to market these products, because the main markets have been lost.

To sum up, the situation is deplorable, and people in working circles are waiting to see what will happen next.

- Which sectors have been hit worst?

- You could say that apart from the food industry, all sectors have been hit. The food industry has only faced rising prices. If you take mechanical engineering, it simply can't function properly because of the lack of components. If you take the mining industry, there is no market, Belaruskali is simply shutting down, the situation is the same with Hrodna Azot. There are no markets, which may shut down the enterprise tomorrow.

Sanctions, logistical problems, loss of markets - all this affects it together. Sanctions lead to problems, blockages in purchases of, I repeat, components. The loss of markets leads to a reduction in wages. The war in Ukraine led to the loss of a huge market, it ceased to exist for Belarus in one day.

- Do we expect Belarusian enterprises to be shut down for economic reasons?

- There will be technical shutdowns. Belaruskali, BMZ and BelGee plant, which has been idle since March 16, will be shut down. It's going to be a snowball effect. State-owned enterprises are trying to say that they "have a good thing going". This is complete nonsense and lies. Right now, products are being produced in stock and are going into storage. Today or tomorrow, these enterprises will be shut down.

- The authorities say that "China and Russia will buy everything we have". Not to go far, you used to work at the Minsk tractor plant, would it be possible to send our tractors to China instead of Ukraine?

- Our tractors are definitely not needed there. China has its own production, which, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, is of higher quality than the Belarusian one, plus it is cheaper.

The Chinese will not buy tractors, and this is not the '70s, when Japan was buying tractors and cars from the USSR for metal. There are enough markets for raw materials and machinery. There is no point in buying our products.

- What will the shutdown of key enterprises, which support the whole cities, lead to?

- People will be left without money. Take the example of Belaruskali, which is a town-forming enterprise. A number of employees are already having, so to say, "park-economy days". In simple terms - they sweep the streets. This is done in order to get paid. They offer public works for which they pay some kind of average wage. This is already happening. When the money runs out, there will be hunger riots.

Workers don't yet know what to do at this particular point. Today no organisation or leader can present them with an action plan. People realise that unless they start doing something themselves, nothing will move and the time will come when they will starve.