Gennady Fedynich, the leader of the REP Trade Union, and Alexander Sosnov, the ex-Labour Minister, have commented on the situation in the Belarusian labour market to the BelGazeta.
Gennady Fedynich: "The workers' average salary in almost all regional centres is about BYN 250-300 roubles. They have to tolerate it because of no other choice and no vacancies. Unpaid overtime work is a norm there. The economy is in turmoil; and even attraction of LTP (medical-labour centres) patients-inmates, where they try to rehabilitate alcohol addicts, to work (what some enterprises and farms are doing) can't remedy the situation, because these poor guys have no motivation to work."
"According to official data, only last year more than 20,000 citizens of Belarus left for permanent residence in Poland, and who counted how many of our compatriots left for Russia? The problem of skilled labour resources has arisen long ago – not only in the regions, but also at our giant enterprises. Trade unions have long said: we need a transparent and understandable motivation for high-performance work. Until there's no motivation, it's all empty speech; however, bureaucrats will always invent the necessary statistics, as usual."
"Of course, it's possible to prohibit workers from living the country: there were times when people couldn't leave a collective farm without a special permit, even for studying. But in the modern world, problems can't be solved in this way. The problem of labour migration exists in the European Union: Lithuanians and Poles are leaving for other countries, where they can earn more money – this is a normal trend. But will people leave, especially the youth, if they have normal working conditions and decent salaries in their homeland? Why would a person leave a home to huddle in trailers or rent rooms abroad?"
"One of the preconditions for the motivation to work should be the abolition of the system of fixed short-term labour contracts, enshrined, in particular, in Presidential Ordinances Nos. 29, 5 and 3. Does anyone really think that people, hired to a job for just a year and constantly experiencing stress and fears, are highly motivated to work? It has long been necessary to abolish these ordinances; people should work under unlimited labour contracts."
"Or let's look at the ratio of wages to prices. It has been stated many times that a square meter of new housing should be no more than the country's average monthly salary. So, why this hasn't been done? (The average accrued salary (prior to taxation) is still below BYN 1000, while a square meter of new housing is above BYN 1800, – note of the REP News) And there are hundreds of such 'whies' today, and neither the govt nor the leader gives any answers. Until people feel the 'fattening' of their wallets and see that the authorities are working to really improve everyone's wellbeing, they will continue leaving the country in search of a better life."
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