Grodno Azot workers speaking about the situation at the enterprise

    The correspondent of Narodnaya Volya talked to the workers of Grodno Azot.

    Information about problems at Grodno Azot appears in the media regularly. There were reports that in order to circumvent the sanctions, products are labeled under other brands, there is not enough money to modernize equipment, and a gas leak occurs due to an emergency condition.

    Locksmith-repairman Dmitry Zablotsky, a former Azot employee, bitterly notes that the number of repairmen with top qualification at the enterprise is decreasing:

    Despite over 10 years of my work experience and top qualification, despite my portrait hanging on the Awards and Recognition Board – they dismissed me. They do whatever they want. Now they have employed six guys who will join the army in the autumn. The repair works at the enterprise are complicated – we need people to perform them.

    Dmitry says that after last year’s events, some of his colleagues, highly qualified specialists, had to go abroad with their families.

    Reflecting on the general situation at the enterprise and relations with the administration, an employee of Azot Aleksandr (he asked not to disclose his surname) notes: each workshop has its own atmosphere, everything depends on the management. For example, he had both the boss and the shift supervisors on the side of the workers when they went on strike. Although this is not open, no one was forced to sign papers against the imposition of sanctions. True, this happened not in every workshop. Aleksandr notes that recently the attitude of the administration has changed. They stopped distributing propaganda leaflets, issuing orders to strengthen discipline, and suspended mass layoffs.

    – Recently they have calmed down, – says Aleksandr, – they see how many specialists with 10-15 years of experience they have lost. And there is no one to replace these professionals! Some even received letters asking them to return to work.

    Another worker, Nikolai, discusses wages at the enterprise. He works in hazardous industries and says that in Russia at similar enterprises wages are higher.

    – We have a salary of 1,200-1,500 rubles, which is not bad for Grodno. But if you look how prices for goods, medicines, services are increasing, then our money is only enough to live with our family for a month.

    The head of the primary organization of the Independent Trade Union (BNP), Andrei Khanevich, reflects on working conditions and outdated equipment. According to him, the equipment at the enterprise is outdated, however, the planned repair work continues. There are no problems with the necessary spare parts because they were purchased in advance:

    – As a rule, they prepare for scheduled repairs in advance. The question is what will happen next. The sanctions are starting to take effect, and spare parts and units are unlikely to be purchased in Europe. As for Chinese parts, their quality is different.

    Dmitry Zablotsky is sure that the administration treats the repair in a wrong way: in particular, the tools and necessary equipment which have been purchased are technologically outdated:

    – For example, they buy welding machines that are difficult to lift and carry from place to place. Although at other enterprises, usually private ones, we see a more professional, simpler tool that is much simpler and easier to operate. Why can’t this be done at Azot?

    None of the interlocutors wanted to talk about the strike. Alexander noticed that even in the smoking-room now there are fewer disgruntled remarks:

    – Now people are focused on themselves; they do not trust each other, they are aloof. The word “strike” does not appear at all. It seems that everyone is waiting for something and trying not to spread information.

    Summarizing the situation, Dmitry Zablotsky expressed his opinion:

    – The overwhelming majority of the company’s employees, including management, are against the events which took place in the country last year. However, everyone is afraid and silent. Those who were not afraid have already left Belarus.

    Since last year, after the Director General of Grodno Azot was replaced, the leader of the primary organization of the Independent Trade Union at the enterprise Andrei Khanevich has repeatedly tried to get an appointment with the management. As a result, he wrote a letter with a proposal to discuss the activities of the enterprise and ensure its stable and efficient work. The answer came with the signature of the Director General Igor Lyashenko.

    He explained that even in the face of US and EU sanctions, the company continues to implement all planned investment projects, reaches key indicators of the business plan, overhauls production equipment, and fulfills all obligations under the Collective Agreement. And, allegedly neither the collective nor the employer knows anything about the activities of the Independent Trade Union. Moreover, the Director General expressed doubts about whether the BNP members have full information about what the administration is doing to maintain the stable operation of the enterprise.

    Lyashenko reproached the head of the Independent Trade Union: “You are not trying to at least condemn the sanctions adopted against our enterprise by words or deeds”.

    To summarize, the Director General expressed disagreement with the trade union’s charter, which stipulates that an employer and others who have the right to be employed and dismissed must not be members of the Independent Trade Union. Lyashenko believes that this regulatory provision is discriminatory and incompatible with the legislation of the Republic of Belarus. He proposed to the primary organization to bring the main document of the independent trade union organization into line with the legislation.