On November 10, Alyaksandr Lukashenka held a meeting with Mikhail Orda, Head of the Federation of Belarusian Trade Unions. In Belarus, the organisation is involved in promoting state ideology and supporting the regime; according to its critics, it has little to do with defending workers’ rights.
“We have agreed that trade unions will be established at all private enterprises by the end of 2020. This issue should be handled by the end of the year,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes Lukashenka
If such trade union has not been founded in a company, it will be closed down, he warned, slamming the businesspeople who joined the protests.
“We see in what manner some people behave; they have set a course for destroying the state and statehood in our country. Well, we will sort things out,” the politician promised.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka suggested that the economic situation in Belarus could worsen.
“We will cope with the situation, but it will not be easy <…> But we have to inform people of it, convey the information about difficult times’ coming to people, to workers’ collectives, to organisations,” he added.
Such threats against businesses are unfounded; it is the employees and workers who should set up trade unions, Alyaksandr Yarashuk, a representative of the independent Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions, told news agency BelaPAN. According to him, similar demands voiced by Lukashenka in 2015 ended in nothing. At that time, window-dressing trade unions were established at many enterprises.
“And then the regime was in control of the situation. Currently, they [officials] need to think not about how to create trade unions in private firms, but how to survive,” he stressed.
On the back of the presidential election held in August, workers began to withdraw from the membership in pro-government trade unions and join independent ones. The exact number of leavers is not reported.