Workers of the enterprises "Bobruiskagromash" and "Bobruisk Factory of Tractor Parts and Units" report that their employers issued an order demanding to go to work on Saturday, June 29. The day-off, according to the document, is postponed from the nearest Saturday to December 31. At the "Bobruiskagromash", this is already the second Saturday in a row, on which bosses, by similar orders, force employees to come to work. Nobody ever asks for their consent; the double pay for the work on the weekend is also out of the question.
Bosses refer to Presidential Ordinance 5, interpreting the removal of the day-off as a change in essential working conditions, about which, according to the ordinance, the employer must notify employees seven days in advance.
Without asking workers' consent, "Bobruiskagromash" bosses force them to work on Saturday
"Many workers don't want to work on weekends; some agree, but for double pay. Some were afraid of consequences, and came to work on June 22. Some of the workers took leave and worked only until lunchtime; others took a day-off at their own expense, employees of the "Bobruiskagromash" have told.
Those, who fundamentally disagree with the factory's policy and know that Saturday is their legal day-off, didn't come to work. At the "Bobruiskagromash", this position was supported by about 20 workers. They were asked by their bosses to write explanatory notes about their absenteeism on that day. According to sources from the personnel division, the order to work on Saturday was downloaded from the Minsk Tractor Works, where the Bobruisk factory is a unit.
"Everyone understands that neither the first nor the second order is consistent with the labour legislation. On June 29, the City Day is celebrated in Bobruisk, which we should probably mark with efficient work. People want to work and earn money, and we only succeed in working," workers of both enterprises complain.
Workers tried to establish a dialogue with their factory bosses through officials of trade unions-members of the "official" FPB, and also appealed to the ideological divisions.
"The factory trade promised to bring the issue to the employer's knowledge and resolve the situation, but they failed to go beyond promises. People quit the official trade union – they see that it does not help in any way in defending their rights. Bosses directly said that those who disobey will be dealt with. Those, who failed to come on Saturday, "are on the list of unreliable persons." Someone is afraid of losing his job; someone has a few years left until retirement. Young people quickly flee from the enterprises. Many people have left through scandals, unable to be dismissed by agreement of the parties, the factory workers say.
The situation at Bobruisk factories was commented by Gennady Fedynich, the leaders of the REP Trade Union:
"It's sad that neither the factory bosses, nor their lawyers don't know or wouldn't know the Labour Code; and nobody has cancelled it. The work schedule is approved by the company for the whole year. Such shifts of working days from June to December are illegal."
"Besides, on weekends, it's forbidden to attract to work young people under the age of 18; women on leave to care for a child under three years old, or pregnant women. All the rest can be invited to work on days-off only by personal consent and for double pay. The only exceptions are the enterprises with a continuous production and technological cycle (for example, oil refineries). If an employee does not agree, he/she has the full right not to go to work without explaining the reasons. All repressive steps of the bosses – punishment of workers, deprivation of premiums, etc. – are illegal. In unforeseen situations, for example, in the event of accidents or for preventing accidents, workers can be brought to work without their consent."
"In this case, we have employers' unscrupulous actions, who want their people to work more and almost for free. The 'Bobruiskagromash', in its order, refers to Presidential Ordinance 5, which assumes that in the event of a change in the essential working conditions, the employer must notify the employee within seven days. This ordinance has nothing to do with this situation. When material conditions change, the employer must not only justify in writing the production, organizational or economic reasons, but also put them into practice. And this is naturally not done. Work on weekends is clearly defined in the Labour Code and has nothing to do with essential changes in working conditions."
"The employer has no right to demand any explanatory information from employees, if they failed to come to work on a day-off. Explanatory notes are needed in case a worker is late or absent at work without supporting documents, but in the above case, there's no need to write anything. If bosses express direct threats of non-renewal of labour contract, or disciplinary punishments – one should not be afraid, record the facts of pressure or discrimination and make them public. This is the only way to bring unscrupulous employers to responsibility and make them respect the workers' labour and legal rights. The only efficient decision that workers can take is to unite and fight for their rights. We are ready to provide them with the necessary solidarity support."