The Coordination Council of the Republic of Belarus has called on workers to go on strike. This, according to the Council, will be the most efficient blow to the regime, bringing its end still closer. Zinaida Mikhnyuk, the chair of the Brest regional branch of the REP Trade Union, who is now also the acting chair of the union (since Gennady Fedynich, the elected chair, is serving his conditional term and cannot hold any posts in the union), was invited by the Radio Ratsya to tell about the moods among workers in the region.
Radio Ratsya (RR): “It is constantly said that workers go on strike, which would contribute to the end of Lukashenko’s regime. How do you view this situation? Will our workers dare to go on strike not only in Minsk, for example, but also in the regions? Can we hope for this?”
Zinaida Mikhnyuk (ZM): “The Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (known as the BKDP) has always been the organ where workers who had an active life position could come. What’s happened now? Even we, leaders of independent trade unions, were not completely sure that any strikes would happen. And what happened has shown that the working class began understanding that a lot depends on them in this life. As the leader of the REP Trade Union in the Brest Region, I want to state that we have not very many enterprises in Brest, where we can hope that they will go on strike. But that workers have woken up feeling themselves responsible for what is happening in the country, I can state with all my confidence.”
RR: “How can you say that the working class is beginning to understand that a lot depends on them, and that they are the driving force?”
ZM: “We have one company in Brest that is well-known, and there seems to be good salaries there – the ‘Gazoapparat Gefest’, a vote was held there, and 40% were in favour of a strike, while the rest were not. But these workers lined up and came out with posters ‘Let’s not forget and not forgive!’, with their demands, with the enterprise flag. Residents of Brest came out to support them. First, the ‘Gefest’ workers came out, then, we followed them. We marched from this enterprise along the Cosmonauts Boulevard, then along Pushkinskaya Street and came out to the main square of Brest. Looking at them, workers of some minor enterprises followed them. Employees of Beltelecom called me and said that they couldn’t take the company flag with them, but what they discussed and decided to go out together to the square and thus confirm that they are the Beltelecom labour collective. If we talk about minor enterprises, which are not in such a good financial position, they are not so afraid of losing their jobs tomorrow, losing these salaries, they also came to the square. I believe that the public society is being forged in Belarus now’ and in Brest also. So far, in the Brest Region, we didn’t manage to organize an open strike, but I can assert the fact that workers are taking part in protests, and at their workplaces demonstrate their protest at least in the form of ‘Italian strikes’.”