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Workers in Belarus down tools to protest oppression

14 August, 2020In response to brutal oppression by the Belarusian authorities, who used extreme violence to suppress free and peaceful protests against the recent rigged election, workers at many large companies in Belarus have downed tools and held peaceful assemblies. 

During the sixth days of protests, work stoppages rapidly spread across the country. According to recent reports, workers at as many as 100 different companies have downed tools to protest against the failure of company bosses to provide safety from brutal police repressions.

Workers at Belaruskaliy, a fertilizer producer, reported that several of their colleagues had been detained and brutally beaten by the special riot police, OMON, on 11 August while going to work for the night shift. One of the workers was sentenced to 25 days and another for 15 days.

Earlier, IndustriALL received reports of a series of detentions and severe beatings of union leaders who peacefully participated in the elections as independent observers. These include the former president of the Independent Trade Union of Belarus (BNP) Mikalaj Zimin, his colleague Maxim Sereda, and Jan Roman, a journalist and activist of the Free Metal Workers’ Union (SPM). The police have not allowed any contact with the detained.

In addition to continued reports of violence and arbitrary detention, people released on 13 and 14 August from the detention centres in Minsk and other cities have shared extremely alarming accounts of brutal torture, heavy beatings and other inhuman acts of violence while in detention.

According to reports from the Belarusian media and IndustriALL affiliates in the country, workers have stopped work to hold spontaneous assemblies at big manufacturing companies, including BelAZ (off-road trucks, Zhodino), MAZ (trucks and buses, Minsk), MTZ (tractors, Minsk), Keramin (ceramic tiles, Minsk), Integral (electronics, Minsk), Grodno Azot (chemicals, Grodno), Belaruskaliy (potassium fertilizers, Soligorsk).

Workers demand that company bosses and city leaders guarantee their safety and stop violence against workers the general population. At many meetings, workers express mistrust of election results that were announced, and demanded the resignation of the Lukashenko and a re-run of the elections.

The European and international community have started discussing additional sanctions against those involved in the process of falsifications during the elections in Belarus.

IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll European Trade Union jointly expressed their outrage, anger and protest at the disproportionate violence, persecution and arrests directed at people peacefully protesting the results of the presidential elections on August 9.