After 1300 people signed a petition about the problems of public transport and violations of working conditions, the "Minsktrans" began putting pressure on the signatories. A letter appeared on the Internet urging the employees to revoke their signatures.
Employees have launched a new appeal asking to "protect them against the employers' unlawful pressure." In their turn, "Minsktrans" officials deny the facts of pressure.
"Some employees, who have signed the appeal, experience psychological pressure from individual officials of the 'Minsktrans' (threats of non-extension of labour contracts, evictions from hostels, etc.), who urge them to revoke their signatures to the petition and keep silent at the scheduled meetings to discuss the appeal. As a result of the persecutions for criticism, especially in Trolleybus Park No. 3, a certain number of signatories have already been forced to abandon the demands and their signatures to the petition," says the new appeal.
Valentin Ryabchenko, a member of the REP Trade Union and a former employee of the Trolleybus Park No. 3, told how he managed to defend his rights while working at the "Minsktrans":
"The problems in the 'Minsktrans' branches concern not only drivers. The employer saves money by neglecting workers' safety, thus endangering them and their passengers. I worked as a welder, and I was underpaid for my overtime. Everything was done without an official order. They promised to pay later, but I managed to receive my money only after the check conducted by the division of the State Labour Inspectorate and a large number of appeals sent to various bodies. In my case, the publicity in the media and appeals to the Inspectorate gave the result. The employer had to admit violations and pay the due money. Besides, there were numerous violations of working conditions and labour safety, about which I also complained."
"I hope drivers won't revoke their signatures to the petition"
"The independent REP Trade Union helped me to defend my interests, while the labour dispute commission and the pro-governmental trade union trade union, supposed to protect my rights, took the side of the employer."
"We should be brave at defending our rights: turn on your voice recorder, publish the facts of pressure. This is the only way to achieve justice. I very much hope that the drivers, who are now pressed at 'Minsktrans' branches, will not give up and revoke their signatures to the petition, but on the contrary, will unite and fight together. We can defeat the system – it's just important not to give up."
Yuri Belyakov, a legal inspector of the REP Trade Union, said that several employees of "Minsktrans" branches had earlier applied to the trade union:
"Drivers told that they work for more than 12 hours, while their overtime is not fixed, and they are not provided with the due days-off. This is a clear violation of labour rights. We, while defending our member, turned to the bosses of the trolleybus depot and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection. So far, neither the employer, nor the competent bodies have taken any action. We will continue seeking the observance of labour standards."
"Drivers were fined for the condition of the trolleybuses"
"We received information that after the launch of the above petition, some GAI (traffic police) inspectors arrived at one of the trolleybus depots. They fined the drivers present there for unwashed windshields, although this is the responsibility of the depot boss. We treat it as pressure. Besides, drivers are called for personal conversations. In particular, with one of the applicants, I went to a meeting with the deputy head of the depot, but I was not allowed to be present. We assume that conversations are intended to force drivers to take the employer's side, and at the planned meeting, to revoke their signatures to the petition. The right to file appeals is enshrined in the Constitution. No one has the right to exert this kind of pressure," Yuri Belyakov has stated.
"According to drivers, trolleybuses go out to routes actually without due examination. The petition also refers to transport's insecurity. These are problems not only for 'Minsktrans' drivers and employees. This also applies to passengers – it's in their interest to support drivers and defend safe transportation. This case is now gaining resonance, and the REP Trade Union is ready to protect the rights of the 'Minsktrans' employees who will turn to us," the lawyer has concluded.