MINSK, 18 August (BelTA) – All the enterprises of the real sector of the economy are working as usual. There are groups of protesters at some of them, Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko told BelTA on 18 August.
The prime minister said: “Today all the enterprises of the real sector of the economy are operating in normal mode. No assembly lines have been stopped. People are working. It is an absolutely real situation. Indeed, at some enterprises there are groups of employees, who are inclined towards protests and may be dissatisfied with something. They protest in order to express their attitude to what is going on. But it is particularly disheartening that they are trying to involve others in their protests.”
The head of government believes that most of the workers want to work and understand that the organization of such illegal protests can be disastrous.
Roman Golovchenko continued: “Indeed, Article 41 of the Constitution allows people to go on strike. But it has to be a strike to resolve a labor dispute, a strike to address violations of the labor contract. If some reconciliatory procedures fail, then the workers of an enterprise have the right to go on strike in full compliance with the Constitution.”
Roman Golovchenko noted that if the legal procedure for arranging a strike is violated, then the strike is out of the question. “This is why 20 people, 30 people, maybe 50, 100, or even 200 people cannot speak on behalf of an entire enterprise or get the other workers committed to the strike or some other protest actions. It is a prosecutable deed as the direct causing of harm. It interferes with the operation of an enterprise, violates its normal routine. The enterprise experiences losses,” Roman Golovchenko said. “If such things happen, then the people that cause losses will be prosecuted. This damage can be calculated and will be calculated.”
Roman Golovchenko believes that small groups of people are putting efforts into making their protest mood look like a massive movement. In his opinion, the situation is totally different. “People want to work and earn money. In the course of communication with workers one can clearly see one thought: even if someone demonstrates a different civic stance, has made a different choice, it should not be mixed with the operation of the economy. Because we are an open economy and should work at full capacity. Otherwise, we will be pushed to the road shoulder,” he stated.
Roman Golovchenko noted that any downtime – due to technical reasons or due to a strike – results in losses not only because products are not manufactured at some specific time. “We can clear the way for our competitors with our own hands like that. They are just waiting for us to slow down. There is a fierce competition on the market. This is why it is very generous of us to make such gifts to our competitors,” the head of government is convinced.
Roman Golovchenko also spoke about the situation at Belaruskali. “The output has been decreased by a certain degree because some people couldn't decide whether they should protest or go to their workstations. Our competitors grabbed the opportunity. For instance, Uralkali was pleased to increase shipments,” the prime minister said. “Because the global potash market has a limit. If someone starts producing less, then someone else immediately starts producing more. You will have a hard time trying to regain your market share. The same is true for all the other commodities.”
“Some people may be driven by emotions in their understanding of the situation. But when convincing and simple words are used to explain what losses the enterprise is experiencing, how the standing of the specific worker, his or her salaries, bonuses will be affected, they come to realize that it is necessary to step down emotions a bit,” Roman Golovchenko added.
In his words, the economy has not felt any consequences from protests at enterprises yet. “There are no negative consequences because no enterprise has been halted, all of them are operating as usual,” the head of government noted.
“Belaruskali, Grodno Azot… But then again we are talking about individual divisions and we cannot say yet that some damage has been caused. If some enterprise is totally shut down, then certainly this damage can be calculated as the amount of products that could have been manufactured. It is not the case yet. There are no reasons to say that the national economy has suffered some losses,” Roman Golovchenko believes.
At the same time the government has calculated the losses that every large enterprise will suffer if it stops working. “These figures were handed over to the workers so that they could understand that naturally it would not but affect the financial standing of the workers. Because salaries in Belarus depend on how much work is done,” the prime minister said.
“I am convinced that the time [to announce losses of the enterprises] will never come. Because emotions ran wild right after the presidential election. Now we are getting up-to-date information that passions have calmed down. Everything is getting back to normal. It is an absolutely real picture however someone may claim otherwise,” he added.
Roman Golovchenko believes that small groups of people at enterprises are trying to stir up things. “But I would like to emphasize: without threatening anyone, without scaring anyone, in proper order. Everyone is in favor of observing the law. We are in favor of it as well. There are company rules, there is the Labor Code, everything is stipulated there. Explanations are being provided as well. As they say, nobody will become a victim of the regime,” the head of government said. “The management of the enterprises will have to act in line with the law, in line with the Labor Code. Those, who don't want to start working, will have to go.”