Aleksandr Bukhvostov: The workers themselves should demand proper working conditions

    Last week employees from MTZ (Minsk Tractor Works) reported that the temperature in the production shops reached 35-40 degrees Celsius. The “Narodnaya Volya” newspaper reached out for comments to the acting Deputy Director General for Social Development and Ideological Work Vladimir Piskizhev and the Chairman of the MTZ Trade Union Stanislav Shimansky, but got no answers.

    Aleksandr Bukhvostov, the Chairman of the Free Metalworker’s Union (SPM) which also operates at MTZ, commented on the situation.

    – If the temperature in the production shop exceeds 33 degrees Celsius, the worker has the right to refuse to work, – says Aleksander Bukhvostov. – There are sanitary standards specified in the certificate of workplace assessment. Everything is indicated there, point by point, and it is the workers who make a decision. As I have already mentioned, they can refuse to work if the appropriate conditions are not created – conditions which, I repeat, are duly documented.

    We give such recommendations to employees, and members of our primary organizations at enterprises explain to the staff how to behave in a given situation. And if acceptable conditions for work are not created, it is necessary to negotiate with the management of both the workshop and the company.

    – As far as we know, it was MTZ where workers asked such questions to the management. They are allegedly trying to find a solution. As for independent trade unions, we can only explain to a worker the way he can act on legal grounds. And workers should use this right. I repeat once again: the workers themselves should not keep silent but demand proper working conditions.

    Our independent trade union has no right to send a technical inspection to MTZ in order to check working conditions, since we are prohibited from doing this by the legislative enactments adopted. Our primary organization is not registered with MTZ, so they tell us: you have no right to appear at the plant premises. And in case we register the primary organization, the names of the workers will become known, and they can be fired. Vicious circle.

    As far as we know, there is a staff shortage at many enterprises at the moment. This is what we told beforehand. Back in March, in our letter sent to the Prime Minister we indicated that if the dismissed specialists were not reinstated, this would affect both production volumes and product quality.