The Prosecutor's Office has suspended the trial on the lawsuit of the Open Joint-Stock Company (OJSC) «Milkavita» until the check is over.
On May 30, the first travel session of Sovietsky District Court of Gomel was held in the conference hall of the OJSC «Milkavita». Despite the checkpoint regime, the factory ensured publicity of the trial by allowing journalists and the audience into the «Milkavita» territory. Judge Anatoly Kapustin, who considered the case, did not forbid photo or video recording of the session.
Judge Anatoly Kapustin reads out the list of respondents
The amount of shortage, claimed by factory bosses, makes over 140,000 roubles. The claims were put forward against 205 employees; and 25 of them appeared at the session.
Andrei Strizhak, a REP activist, explained such a small number of respondents:
– If you summon all the workers of the shop to the trial, you'll have to stop the shop. For sure, the workers of the current shift were absent. However, I heard another version from the members of our trade union: before the session, factory bosses told workers not to go to court, and that they had to be at their workplaces. This, of course, is an unlawful demand: a subpoena is a valid reason not to go to work.
Four out of the 205 respondents reacted to the call of the REP Trade Union and joined the organization; therefore, Leonid Sudalenko, the regional legal inspector of the REP Trade Union, came to the session to defend their interests.
Leonid Sudalenko speaks at the court session
The REP was not the only trade union present at the court session: Vladmir Ksendzov, the legal labour inspector of the Gomel Regional Trade Union of Agrarian-Industrial Workers (APC) (state-supported trade union, a member of the FPB) told the court that 186 respondents wrote applications, asking him to represent their interests at the trial; the interests of three other respondents (now, they do not work for the «Milkavita») were represented by Ekaterina Filiptsova, a representative of the regional association of trade unions.
The claimant was against the defence of four respondents by the independent trade union arguing that they are all members of the APC Trade Union, whose charter prohibits double membership.
One of the REP members said from his place addressing the «official» trade union:
– You have automatically enrolled everyone into your union! You don't have even my entrance application!
Leonid Sudalenko answered to the claimant's objections that the same statute should be followed: if an employee joins any other trade union, his membership in the APC is automatically cancelled. Unlike the claimant, the prosecutor did not object to Sudalenko's petition, and the court allowed him to defend the interests of his client-REP members.
Anna Zheleznyakova, the public prosecutor, petitioned for conducting a check at the factory in connection with disappearance of more than 600 tons of dairy products, and about a suspension of the trial until the end of the investigatory check.
Prosecutor Anna Zheleznyakova
The REP Trade Union, whose members sent, shortly before the court session, their applications to the Investigating Committee demanding to hold a check, also spoke in favour of a suspension of the trial.
The court granted these petition and applications; and now investigators will work in the shops, bookkeeping department and other subdivisions of the OJSC «Milkavita»; while the issue of workers' compensation of the shortage will be postponed until the inquiry is completed.
Andrei Strizhak told how the workers in the hall reacted to the fact that their colleagues are defended by the independent trade union:
– I noticed no conflicts in the hall. People are united by one problem. Many talked with their colleagues, defended by the REP Trade Union – and for the first time learned some interesting points. For example, that signing the settlement agreement with the employer will mean an automatic confession of their guilt. And who wants to confess to stealing the milk, if one's conscience is clean? They learned that there was no need to write applications asking for the defence of the 'official' trade union; they can at any time ask for another defender. Those, who no longer work for the «Milkavita», behaved much bolder than their former colleagues and were much more actively interested in the REP Trade Union.
The praca-by.info asked Leonid Sudalenko about his further actions:
– Our strategy is to first give time to investigators to establish those guilty; If they fail to do it, or if they don't want to, then we will offer the claimant to specify what is the exact guilt of each worker. Not as it looks now: you worked there – you must pay, that is, their guilt is a supposed one. We want the employer to prove: how much, when and at what time this or that worker had stolen, or destroyed, or drank that milk in question. So far, we took the first step, and the court agreed with us. The prosecutor supported us. Let's see what investigators will achieve. I think the «Milkavita» case will not end this year.