According to the new Belarus' Presidential Ordinance, the unemployed will have to reimburse the cost of state-subsidized services.
Kemal Ozkan, Deputy Secretary General of the IndusrtiALL Global Union
On January 25, 2018, Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus, signed his Ordinance No. 1 "On Promoting Population's Employment", which replaced the notorious Ordinance No. 3 "On Prevention of Social Dependence", which was called "Ordinance on Parasites" and triggered mass protests in last year's spring.
The Belarusian member organizations of the IndustriALL Global Union welcome the abolition of the tax on "parasites"; however, express some concerns about the new ordinance.
The new ordinance abolishes the previous tax of USD 240, imposed on every citizen of Belarus, who participated in financing the public spending for less than 183 calendar days in the past year. However, starting from January 1, 2019, all the non-working citizens will have to pay for the state-subsidized services up to their full cost. A particular list of such services will be defined by the government by April 1, 2018. Thus, the new ordinance preserves the concept of punishment of the unemployed for the fact that they cannot find a job. The ordinance, most likely, will lead to further impoverishment of the people, who are already suffering from unemployment.
There is also an opinion that the new ordinance will stimulate employment, since it simplifies the process of registering individual entrepreneurs. Thus, with the new ordinance, Belarusians will find it easier to find job in the sphere of services. Besides, since the state undertakes to guarantee workplaces, in case the workforce of an enterprise is optimized, the trade union may be more demanding from local authorities for retraining and finding employment for the released workers.
However, most unionists believe that the new ordinance will fail to consider the interests of Belarusian workers, and actually deprive citizens of social protection and demotivates them in obtaining decent wages and proper working conditions.
As asserted by one member organization of the IndustriALL: "It seems that they want to employ everyone, but there is not a word about wages and salaries: they want work just for the sake of work. Ordinance No. 1 provides no motivation for high-performance and high-quality work. What about the category of those citizens, and there are over 700,000 of them, who work outside Belarus and bring their earned money to their families? And what about housewives who raise their children? Earlier, they were ranked among parasites."
Kemal Ozkan, Deputy Secretary General of the IndustriALL Global Union has stated: "Apparently, there are no significant changes in the adopted ordinance, since its basic structure remains the same as before. It's shameful that Belarusian workers continue suffering from senseless decisions of their government. We are in solidarity with all workers in Belarus. We strongly support the respect of fundamental rights of trade unions and democracy in the country. Nevertheless, independent trade unions, in particular the REP Trade Union and its leadership, are still persecuted for their democratic opposition to policies and decisions that we believe fail to lead to anything good in Belarus."