Gender insensitivity of Belaruskali CEO … or the women’s question again


By Iryna ZYL and Lizaveta MERLIAK

Yet another women’s network activity in Salihorsk has been disrupted. The CEO of Belaruskali broke a Collective Agreement clause.

It was supposed to be a seminar on action planning for the women’s network of the Independent trade union of miners at JSC Belaruskali. The event has been planned beforehand, and all the formalities needed for holding it have been fulfilled by the union side. The employer satisfied the request for the venue (the assembly hall of the company), but refused to provide nearly a quarter of all participants a leaf from work to take part in this event. Thus, eight out of 28 participants representing secondary units of the company, such as auxiliary service, kindergarten, health resort “Beriozka”, enriching factory at 4th Kali mine and so on were supposed to be excluded from the union event.

The union applied for a leaf for those members according to the Collective Agreement, clause 11.5; however the employer refused to grant it saying it was a production necessity to keep these activists working.

Once again, the women network faces the same failure to understand its union activities, which it has observed before. Let’s remind you of some ordinary union events held by women that ended up with disruption or finished in court.

We will not forget the 14 seconds video against rising the retirement age for workers working in hazardous working conditions that the union women leaders took on the doorstep of the union office in April 2016. After this short video the women leaders were taken to police department and later punished with a warning. Neither have we forgotten the court hall full of the inhabitants of Salihorsk, who came after that to support the union women.

One more event to mention is the conference of the Independent trade union of Miners’ at JSC Belaruskali Women Network dedicated to 10 years’ anniversary of its creation which was disrupted by fire alarm and smoke in the building – the so called “operation smoke bomb”. The police, along with firefighters, forced everyone to vacate the premises and not to hold the event. For the sake of history, it must be said that the conference took place in another place and in the full program. It was hard to explain the guests of the conference, including our union sisters from the Netherlands’ trade union what they were observing.

Another initiative of the women’s network was to honor the city of Salihorsk anniversary with presenting a bench in the park of “Four Elements”, which was disgracefully sawed at night before the event and rejected as a gift.

For reference, the women’s network of the union started in 2006, and since then it unites women union activists at Belaruskali and its auxiliary units. The activists of the network form special committees, publish their own bulletin, consult other union members on legal and psychological issues, work on prevention of gender based violence and harassment at workplace; they play a great role in improving working conditions of women.

Still, the women union activists can name times more successful events than those that failed.

On October, 23 there will be the Independent trade union of Miners’ Council meeting; and the CEO of JSC Belaruskali Ivan Halavaty is invited. There, the union will have a chance to talk about gender insensitivity of the company in connection with independent union activities and remind the employer of importance of the Collective Agreement they signed together.