Gennady Fedynich, the leader of the independent REP Trade Union, sums up the outgoing year 2017:
"In 2017, our trade union face serious challenges; and I'm not talking about searches and the criminal case. They are of secondary importance, in my opinion. Our real challenge is the test for the strength of our organization that people are beginning to trust today. Can we protect the interests of a person who comes to us with his/her problems? From this standpoint, last year was quite successful for our trade union. Information about the work of our unionists and consultations and help of our lawyers were of demand this year as never before. And I want to express my sincere gratitude to all our activists and volunteers: despite the fact that we have to work in an entirely different 'weight category' than the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (known as the FPB), and to do not less amount of work, nevertheless, our activists and volunteers find energy to talk about the REP; and people listen to them. Last year, we had an unprecedented inflow of new union members – almost 500 people. We've never had such a good year yet. Most people now find us through social networks and our website. There is not a single day now – it's no exaggeration, when we don't receive calls with the question: 'How to join the REP?' Recently, the reasons for calls have changed: earlier, they usually turned to REP for help; but now they ask: 'How can I help REP?'"
"We did everything we could, but not all that we had wanted. The year showed that there are many problems around us that concern many people."
"What haven't we coped with? Unfortunately, the feeling of solidarity has not been fully consolidated: if one or two people have problems, then hundreds must support them! Then it's easier for people to endure hardships and believe that they are not alone in their situation. We'll go working towards this, but formation of solidarity is not an overnight's work."
"Of course, next year, we don't expect the kind of prosperity that exists today in the state-owned press, or in officials' statements. There are no prerequisites for any fundamental improvement of people's living standards. To achieve this, we should struggle and find those directions of our work that are close to people of labour, pensioners and all those who believed that together we are much stronger than individually."
"Experts say that the Belarusian society is changing. I wouldn't say that it changes dramatically. The wave of protests triggered by Ordinance No. 3 is not an indicator that you may tick and say: 'We've achieved this.' Protests are only the start of solidarity actions of those, who are sick and tired of the poverty, in which many people live today. Our major 'policy' for today is an increase in workers' living standards – this is the direction where we'll strain our efforts. We know the mentality of our fellow countrymen: they won't be attracted to streets and squares by empty calls. They want to know what they go out for; they must be sure that each step brings the solution to their problems closer."
"The fact that people's activeness is growing is doubtless; confirmations are in plenty. In particular, people join the trade union not to get help, but consciously, with the intent to be here, to be with others, who want changes like them."