Aleksandr Bukhvostov: Few people understand what decent work is

    On October 7, a meeting was held on the basis of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions, dedicated to the World Day for Decent Work.

    Aleksandr Ivanovich Bukhvostov, member of the BKDP Executive Committee, shares his thoughts concerning the format of the meeting:

     – We have been trying to respond to this significant date since 2010. Previously, we celebrated it more actively, a couple of times we sought permission to organize rallies and pickets. However, now, given the current situation in the country with limited opportunities for trade unions, we could not urge people to go out. So, we decided to hold a round table and set ourselves the goal of gathering both old trade union members and young representatives.

    During the meeting, the current situation around the Belarusian trade union movement and plans of member organizations for further activities were addressed in a discussion format. Also, those present came to the conclusion that the 2019 program “Decent Work for Belarus” requires revision.

    – We have a lot of work to do. Without the active participation of workers, it is difficult to carry out such events with one small asset. And in order for the trade unions to gain strength, we need more opportunities to inform and agitate people. Of course, it is difficult to predict the future in our conditions, however, in any case, we need more active events in honour of this day. – Aleksandr Ivanovich comments.

    An important issue raised at the round table is the Belarusian workers’ awareness of what decent work is as well as people’s interest in achieving it. Those present came to the conclusion that workers in our country basically do not even know what they should be striving for. Bukhvostov also spoke about actions to inform employees:

    – Very few people in our country generally understand what decent work is. On the one hand, of course, we have statistics provided by the Ministry of Labour concerning wages, labour protection and other issues that could be used for work. On the other hand, according to our calculations, the normal salary should be BYN 3,600 – 4,000, based on consumer prices and the list of expenses that a person faces during his life and work at the enterprise. This includes food, education, upbringing of children, the acquisition of household items, a car, an apartment. Salary is the main parameter of decent work. With sufficient income, you can feel like a freer person in the consumer market. Unfortunately, our people are accustomed to using the minimum. I think that our information block will cover more issues concerning decent work. There is a lot of work with people to be done – outreach and awareness-raising work.

    The ILO program defines decent work as “work that delivers a fair income while leaving time for other aspects of life, ensures security for families, respects human rights, gives the right to vote and paves the way for social inclusion. Decent work is a path that connects economic and social goals”.