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Dismissed Belarusian union activist should be reinstated

28 May, 2020In Belarus, a country notorious for its wide use of short-term employment contracts, a court has denied union activist Mikalaj Valadzko’s claim for reinstatement after the German-based Redpath Deilmann refused to renew his short-term contract over his trade union activity.

In 2019, Redpath Deilmann workers tried to obtain safety certification of their jobs, in compliance with Belarusian law. After six months of unsuccessful correspondence with state authorities, some workers joined forces and created a local branch of BITU to to protect their rights and interests in a more organized. Shortly after the union was created and Mikalaj Valadzko elected as its leader, the company management refused to renew his short-term employment contract.

On 26 May, Mikalaj Valadzko’s claim for reinstatement at work and payment of missed wages during a forced absence was dismissed by court. 

IndustriALL assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, says:

“The unfair court decision not to reinstate Mikalaj shows the government and business influence over Belarus’ judicial system. The government’s concerns over losing foreign investors go beyond the rules of a fair trial. In these circumstances, the use of short-term contracts as a way to get rid of workers who go against management will only increase.”

Maxim Poznyakov, Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BITU) chairman, says that the court decision is a consequence of state authorities’ actions over the past 20 years to “turn Belarusian workers into powerless slaves”.

“The lack of freedom of association in the country, the authorization-based procedure of starting a union, the lack of the possibility to strike and the system of short-term contracts have done their job. Workers’ current position is actively used not only by state-owned enterprises, but also private foreign capital.”

Together with BITU, IndustriALL has launched a LabourStart campaign calling for the reinstatement of Mikalaj Valadzko. Sign and share the campaign, sending a message to Redpath Deilmann.