It is not the first time that the authorities are trying to show that in Belarus everything is OK in the sphere of employment. Among such demonstration tools are the so-called "vacancy fairs", intended to show that there are attractive job vacancies in the country. What is the real situation in the country's labour market? The website Charter97.org turned for comments to Leonid Sudalenko, the legal labour inspector of the REP Trade Union for the Gomel Region.
"Lukashenko has promised several times to employ all Belarusians. How would you assess the situation in the labour market? Have the authorities coped with the problems?"
"Should they have coped, we hadn't received the continuation of the last year's 'parasite' ordinance. As for the situation in the labour market, today more and more Belarusians are leaving for work abroad. Interestingly, they go not to Russia, but to EU countries, mostly, to Poland, Lithuania and Czech Republic. People choose real wages, not work for food they are offered in our country. Judge for yourself: after paying utility bills, an ordinary Belarusian has just enough money not to die of hunger. Therefore, these 'vacancy fairs', so actively promoted by our bureaucrats, are an absolute profanation. There are very few people willing to work eight hours a day for 150 US dollars per month. People just can't afford it."
"The 'parasite' ordinance is emphasising again and again that every Belarusian should work in and for the sake of the national economy. Is the state able to provide 500,000 jobs for their 'registered parasites'?"
"Of course, not. If the country has such plenty of jobs, then, what was the need to create all these 'ridiculous' commissions? I want to emphasize that it is a constitutional right of every person to work or not to work. No state servant should interfere and dictate anything."
"On February 12, we filed a lawsuit to the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Gomel; and we'll try to prove that by purchasing goods and services, a person automatically participates in the national economy. The 'parasite' ordinance is a mixture of concepts. It is clear that they want to force to wave shovel for pennies and work for a bowl of soup. But I want to say to the authorities: if you want Belarusians to work here, create attractive vacancies, and don't force people to leave their homeland."
Today, our people are forced to look for work abroad. They have to abandon their families; and children grow up without fathers and mothers. A fresh example: a girl from Gomel, very young, having a small child, is forced to go to Biala Podlaska (Poland), work there for 15 days as a seller in order to maintain her family. She spends half a month in Poland, and half a month in Belarus. He earns EUR 500 for 15 days, during which she works for 12 hours a day, but she can live here quite decently for the money. Here, everything is different: people have to work overtime, same 12 hours a day, but earn USD 150-200 at most. That's the difference of the two neighbouring countries. It's high time to disperse all these 'commissions', which are parasitic themselves for our money."
"And what vacancies are offered by 'parasite' commissions"?
"They have no vacancies. They are only competent to send a person to an LTP (activity therapy centres), if one abuses alcohol. As soon as we start asking questions and complain, they prefer just to shut up. This was the case in Bragin, when a 'parasite' was quickly deleted from the database of 'not employed in the national economy,' and in Gomel, when they 'suddenly' found a reared seven-year-old child in the family."
"I already told a story about a freelancer, who turned to me at the end of last year. He occurred in the 'parasite' database. He was invited to the commission, where he, who earns about USD 3000 per month (but not 'in the national economy'), was offered the vacancy of a cleaner at the house management unit for USD 150. And they told him: 'Hurry up to catch the hot job; it'll be surely occupied tomorrow!' This was in the regional capital; you can imagine what happens in districts and localities!"
"The authors of the review of the Global Economy Watch have put Belarus in the 10th place among the countries with the fastest loss of working-age population. Is the mass emigration an indication of the work of the government and the vacancies the authorities are offering?"
"Of course, not the 'parasites' have driven the country into such a situation. Nobody would go to work in Europe or Russia for USD 800, if they could earn USD 900 in Belarus! However, today, the real salary in Belarus is USD 150-200. Even this is regarded as a good offer. Belarusians are not stupid; they know quite well that it's better to live and work at home – to rear children and live with family, and not in some workers' hostels. People leave their homeland not of the good life."
"The country leader, his government and the authorities in general are guilty for the course they chose almost 25 tears ago. Their key phrases are 'Belarus won't follow the civilized world,' 'we need no reforms' and 'we need no market economy.' Today, we see the outcomes – the deadlock. Every day of protraction is deathlike."
"What are the consequences for the economy of the processes we observe in the labour market?"
"The country will be declared bankrupt, and that's it. Today, we are in a difficult life situation. It may happen that tomorrow nobody will be able to operate machine tools. And this is given the fact that in Belarus has added the retirement age both for women and men. This allegedly should have increased the number of working hands, but, as we see, this is not enough. The worst thing is that we are losing our young people, who are packing their 'emergency suitcases' and leave for the West 'in search for the best'. If this 'brains escape' continues, Lukashenko and his regime will be declared bankrupt."