They are more concerned with the serviceability of machinery than with the health of people

    The Free Metalworkers’ Union (SPM) sent letters to the management of four Belarusian enterprises demanding that problems with workplace temperature be corrected.

    Taking into account numerous complaints concerning low workplace temperatures, SPM trade union members conducted surveys in the trade union primary organizations at MAZ (Minsk Automobile Plant), MTZ (Minsk Tractor Works), BELAZ (Belarusian Automobile Plant) and MMZ (Minsk Motor Plant). According the survey results, it became clear that for many workers workplace temperature in September dropped to 10 degrees and below.

    Mikhail Gromov, the chairman of the MTZ trade union primary organization, comments on the situation at the plant:

    – The workshops are old; they were designed to operate in completely different heating modes, with no intention to economize on people’s health. First of all, they turn on the heating very late, when the equipment goes unserviceable due to low temperature. However, they are more concerned with the serviceability of machinery than with the health of people. They have conducted repair works and ensure heating only at sites with expensive modern temperature sensitive equipment.

    The letters draw the employers’ attention to the fact that this state of affairs violates the requirements of the Sanitary Rules and Regulations as well as the Law “On Labour Protection”, and demand to ensure normal workplace temperature in accordance with the law as soon as possible. Also, the letters recommend employers, in cases where it’s impossible to ensure adequate heating, to reduce the working hours for workers in accordance with Decree of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus No. 33 dated April 30, 2013.

    The work of designers and engineers, as well as the whole heating system, has long been disregarded at the plant; the plant lacks highly qualified thermal engineers. As a result, each workshop has to resolve its problems on its own, and each corresponding decision more and more upsets the balance of the entire heating system. It’s like a leaky bucket – you plug some holes, but it only leaks harder from others. Pipelines are in an emergency condition – they constantly leak and break; reaching them and eliminating leakage is only possible by breaking the pavement and changing the entire sections, which is expensive; so, these works are postponed until the pavement collapses or the nearest basement is flooded, – notes Gromov.

    Despite the questions raised annually, Belarusian enterprises still do not comply with the instructions of the Ministry of Health concerning the temperature conditions, which means that the workers’ health is constantly under threat.