Aleksandr Bukhvostov: All restrictions and sanctions imposed on the enterprises have not yet had effect
The average wages in the country in June exceeded 1,400 BYN – a 5.6% increase in real terms. Roman Golovchenko reported this at a meeting of the Council of Ministers. At the same time, 206,530,260 BYN are allocated for an additional increase in the wages of employees of budgetary organizations. According to Resolution of the Council of Ministers dated August 12, 2021, the Ministry of Finance needs to allocate this money in 2021 from the Reserve Fund of the President. Why use the “emergency supply” if the situation with wages is bearable? The Belaruspartisan asked this question to the Chairman of the Free Metalworkers’ Union (SPM) Aleksandr Bukhvostov.
– At industrial enterprises, real salaries are around 1400 BYN: at BelAZ they pay 1650 BYN, at MAZ – between 800 and 2000 BYN – the wages are too differentiated depending on the category of workers. It would be better to focus on the median salary rather than the average one; not so long ago we made calculations and the median salary amounted to 900 BYN.
The wages in industrial sector are at the level of the average wages in the national economy. And since the median salary is below the average one, not everyone in the industry receives the average salary; in many enterprises it is lower. I know that engineers and technicians, even at such enterprises as Integral, get about 1000 – 1100 BYN.
So far, we can neither confirm nor criticize Golovchenko’s words.
But since now inflation is at the level of 9%, it eats up the increase in wages, as well as the increase in pensions announced on September 1: pensions are increased by 6%, and inflation is already 9%.
The issue of wages at enterprises is now of a subjective nature. Now we want to analyze collective agreements, contact the management of enterprises so that wages will be calculated according to hourly rates. Basically, at enterprises, wages are paid in such a way that a worker does not even know how much he earns: he is paid not more than the established level.
– If the situation with wages is bearable, then why did the authorities use the “emergency supply” – the Reserve Fund of the President, and take 260 mln BYN from there in order to increase wages in the public sector?
– Probably, it is necessary to increase wages, given the social and political processes in the country. Perhaps, they decided to increase wages before amendments to be made to the Constitution; perhaps, they want to increase the level of public confidence in the authorities. Public sector employees are paid from the budget, but there is a budget deficit, and this money is probably used to plug the budget hole.
– You have mentioned amendments to the Constitution. So, do you suppose that a constitutional referendum will be held in the near future?
– I do, like everyone who is watching the process. Whether it will be held or not – it is still up in the air. On the one hand, there are endless talks about amendments to the Constitution, but all the talks do not coincide with the actions of the authorities; even the draft Constitution is not ready, and the deadline is already approaching.
Perhaps, some events will take place soon which will speed up a decision-making process in Belarus; probably, more complicated mechanisms of influence on Belarusian politics are involved here. Lukashenko flies to Moscow at the end of August – decisions are possible.
However, independent trade unions are less worried about this policy, most of all we are concerned about the fate of enterprises. We are only at the beginning of the road: all the restrictions and sanctions that have been imposed on the enterprises have not yet had effect.
I think there is little optimism in Belarus. It is difficult to hope for an optimistic outcome.