MINSK, 28 February (BelTA) – The private sector should more actively set up trade union cells. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement during the 8th Congress of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FTUB) on 28 February, BelTA has learned.
The president stressed that trade unions primarily act as guarantors and defenders of rights of employees, including at private sector enterprises. In his opinion, trade union cells are acceptable in the private sector as well. Trade union activists are working to set up the cells but run into objective difficulties.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “It is not always convenient for owners of private companies to have a trade union, which will make sure that rights of the workers are observed to the detriment of the owner's financial interests. But the state has liberalized terms for doing business. It is time for private companies to demonstrate their maturity and ability to bear social responsibility. We have liberalized business regulations as much as possible. Even Chairman of the State Control Committee [Leonid] Anfimov asks me with trepidation every time whether the committee can inspect a private company or not. Feel free to inspect the companies you need to inspect. No need to be shy.”
If the private sector fails to get the message, a presidential decree on setting up trade union cells in private companies will be worked out, the head of state warned. “It is not a spontaneous decision,” Aleksandr Lukashenko explained. In his words, he is sick and tired of hearing reports that private companies are unwilling to set up trade union cells. “They must be forced to,” the head of state stated.
“I think the most democratic countries will not view the move askance. Why would they? We only want to protect human rights in a democratic way. Private companies want to operate on equal terms with state-run enterprises. We will give them the terms then. A majority of privately-owned companies may have set up trade union cells already and are unhappy about those, who haven't. This is why it is necessary to put everyone on a truly equal footing. If they cannot understand simple words when I tell them about it and my words fall on deaf ears. It is inadmissible,” the president stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that effective labor relations are impossible without mutual responsibility. “You cannot make competitive and quality products and therefore cannot secure sales, earnings, and decent salaries without labor discipline and shop-floor discipline,” he added.
Continuing the line of thought, Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to another important matter in the work of trade unions – occupational safety. Trade unions have revealed over 300,000 occupational safety violations over the course of five years. Over 10,000 units of equipment and machines have been halted to prevent injuries and traumas.
“It seems to me that the rate of occupational injuries in Belarus has been climbing for two years in a row. It is necessary to find out why and make hard-bitten decisions,” Aleksandr Lukashenko believes. “Someone may have lost a breadwinner. Someone still suffers because a son has died or parents have died. Not because they were drunk but because of our complacency or lack of oversight. This is why it is necessary to more closely monitor the normal state of enterprises. In turn, trade unions should get involved. If you think you need more authority, just tell me about it.”