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Oil refinery workers union busted in Belarus

17 October, 2013Trade union leaders had to announce a hunger strike to protest the union busting campaign started at “Mozyr Oil Refinery” against the local union organization of the IndustriALL affiliate Belarusian Independent Trade Union, BITU.

Yuri Shvets, BITU vice-president and chairman of the primary organization at “Mozyr Oil Refinery” and Vasili Alkhovsky, his deputy, started a hunger strike in reply to constant pressure on trade union members and their union. Due to the management pressure since 2008 some 467 workers were forced to withdraw their membership from the organization. This is almost one third of it.

The union leaders decided to go on hunger strike as the last resort measure after the management of the factory has recently fired five BITU members for minor disciplinary reasons while in the same time according to the union the management winks at similar or even more serious offences of workers who are not BITU members. The management refused to meet with the trade union leaders trying to get some clear explanations. This was the last drop that forced first Shvets and later Alkhovsky to go on hunger strike. Both leaders demand:

  • to stop illegal acts against BITU members.
  • to start a full and objective investigation by competent independent specialists of the circumstances of the five dismissals.
  • to abolish disciplinary penalties and other punishments as they are not proportionate to the committed offences.
  • to reinstate the dismissed workers on the basis of the local and national legal acts.

On 16 October union representatives were supposed to meet the leadership of the concern Belneftekhim, to which the Mozyr oil refinery is an affiliate. Unfortunately, the meeting was postponed and a civilised solution of the conflict hoped by the union is not there yet. The BITU leaders promised to apply all legally possible measures for protection of the fired workers. They decided to stop hunger strike for the time being.