An attempt to organize a strike at the “Minsk Tractor Works (known as MTZ) ended with the dismissal of Mikhail Gromov, the chairman of the REP primary organization, and Ulyana Gorbachova, a crane operator. The workers intend to go to court.
On Monday, October 26, MTZ workers attempted to hold a strike. Mikhail Gromov suggested A. Suslenkov, Deputy Director General for Ideology, to meet workers, but he ignored the proposal.
The protest action at the plant ended in layoffs. True, instead of 30 workers, only two were fired.
Mikhail Gromov told the praca-by.info about the events of the last week:
“On Monday, we offered workers to defend their rights by means of a strike. I also met the above Suslenkov, who, with some shop managers, were running after the column of workers. I suggested him to hold a meeting of workers (according to the Collective Agreement, the administration is obliged to allow such a meeting), but he ignored my proposals. In general, something unimaginable was happening on Monday: people were walking through the shop gate; and they began closing it – they almost crushed people.”
“By the end of the shift, people dispersed, I, Ulyana and another worker were given protocols about our dismissal, because we had been absent at workplaces for more than three hours.”
“So how many workers were in fact fired?”
“Initially, they wanted to fire 30 people; but, as I understand it, the majority refused to write explanatory notes. And I pointed out that, firstly, we have no clear boundaries of our workplaces; and secondly, I received no shift task; we cannot be fired for absenteeism, as we were on the territory of the enterprise.”
“Company lawyers failed to justify our dismissal; therefore, they begged Ulyana to write a resignation application by agreement of the parties; a few people agreed, but most have refused. As a result, they explained to everyone that they would not even be punished because they could not find a justification.”
“Will you appeal against your dismissal?”
“Sure! I demanded to provide the entire set of documents within five days; besides, I wrote a protest against dismissal, listed all the violations of the law committed. We’ll surely appeal against our dismissal, demand reinstatement at work and payment of compensations.”
Ulyana Gorbachova has worked at the MTZ for 12 years; she had not a single violation, not a single disciplinary sanction up to trying to participate in a strike.
“I’m accused of being absent at the workplace for more than three hours, but I was on the territory of the enterprise for the entire shift. An absence at the workplace only leads to a disciplinary sanction, not dismissal. Since this is my first violation, the maximum punishment is an oral reprimand or deprivation of part of the premium. But I was fired for absenteeism, although I was at work. I have worked at the MTZ for 12 years, and so far I have not had any disciplinary sanctions – neither verbal nor financial; never.”
“Have they taken into account your marital status?”
“Nothing of the kind, although, according to the law, they should have done it. I am divorced; my son is 7 years old. Plus, on top of that, my mother, who had lost her pension because of the ‘pension reform’, is also maintained by me.”
The fired MTZ workers are going to court.