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Belarus unions discuss privatization in Kiev

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11 April, 2013On 15-16 March Belarus unions and various experts discussed privatization process and its effects on Belarus industry in Kiev, Ukraine. An international workshop was held by FES Ukraine and IndustriALL Global Union.

30 union leaders from Chemical, Oil and Industries Workers Union of Belarus (Belkhimprofsoyuz), Independent Trade Union of Miners, Chemists, Oil Refineries, Transports Workers, Building and Other Workers (BNP), and REPAM gathered in Kiev, Ukraine, on 15-16 March to discuss privatization and restructuration process in Belarus.

Manfred Warda, an IndustriALL expert and former ICEM General Secretary, joined the discussion, as well as IG BCE official from Germany Michael Wolters, president of the Energy and Electrotechnical Industry Workers' Union of Ukraine Sergei Shishow, Russian Independent Coal Employees’ Union (Rosugleprof) president Ivan Mokhnachuk, president of the Perm branch of the Russian Chemical Workers’ Union Alexei Klein, and the president of the union local at Uralkaliy plant in Russia Irina Kolesnik.

Vadim Borisov, who represents IndustriALL in CIS countries, noted that unions could benefit from the knowledge of the tactics of privatization employed by various governments. He recalled that in Kazakhstan the membership of the chemical workers’ union shrunk almost ten times due to the privatization and its negative effects on the industry.

Alexei Klein from the Russian Chemical Workers Union debunked some popular myths about privatization, for example, ‘government is an ineffective owner’ and ‘after privatization, workers will own the plant’. Irina Kolesnik from Uralkaliy described the privatization of her own plant.

Ivan Mokhnachuk from Rosugleprof emphasized the fact that after privatization each and every new owner starts with restructuration, layoffs and the destruction of social facilities at the plant. Sergei Shishov from the Energy and Electrotechnical Industry Workers' Union of Ukraine described the social responsibilities section in the privatization contract, which he succeeded in making mandatory.

Belarus unions agreed to put forward their representatives in the privatization commission. They also laid out union priorities in the privatization process. Furthermore, the participants agreed on meeting again to develop common position among unions on the privatization of various plants.