News / 17.09.19

Was watermelon harvesting in Lukashenko's residence a violation of labour safety?

On August 29, the presidential press service posted a video, showing girls from the presidential protocol service gathering watermelons together with Alexander Lukashenko. Not every watermelon was easily lifted by Lukashenko himself (his height is about 180 cm, and weight is at least 100 kg). In the video, the girls throw watermelons to each other, lift them into the truck trunk, and one even carries two watermelons at once.

Doesn't it all harm the women's health?

What the law says:

In its Resolution of October 13, 2010, No. 133, the Ministry of Public Health established the limits for women to lift and carry weights. These limits are formulated as follows:

  • The maximum weight allowed for lifting and carrying, when alternating with other work (up to two times per hour) is 10 kg;

  • The same done continuously during the working shift – 7 kg;

  • The total weight of items transported during each hour of the working shift should no exceed:

    • when taken from the working surface – 350 kg;

    • when lifted from the floor –175 kg.

It is also specified that the distance to which the load is transported manually should not exceed 5 meters; and the height to which the load is lifted is limited by one meter, and from the working surface – by 0.5 meters.

What the legal labour inspector of the independent REP Trade Union thinks:

"In the posted video, we see watermelons weighing much more than 7 kilos. We see fragile girls lifting them and carrying even two in their hands and lifting watermelons to the height into the cargo box. Even if we assume an average weight of one watermelon being 5-7 kilos, and given that 10 girls together with the president gathered 20 tons of watermelons, it makes two tons per person. In order not to violate the ban of lifting 175 kg per hour as specified by the Ministry of Public Health, the whole process should have taken at least 12 hours, without breaks and rest," Leonid Sudalenko has summed up.

It was not possible to clarify what the weight of watermelons from Lukashenko's farm was. In one of previous videos from the harvest from president's fields, watermelons of such size had the weight of 10 kilos each.

"If an employee believes that the employer violates his labour rights, he has the right to turn to the state labour inspectorate or directly to the court with a complaint, so that such a violation is recorded. If this is confirmed, the employee has the right to demand early dismissal from work with payment of three average monthly salaries," Mr Sudalenko has added.

"A female worker has the legal right to refuse from the work that is prohibited by law," the rights defender has stated.

Why it is harmful to lift weights:

  • It can lead to diseases of blood vessels and veins;

  • It can result in displacement of internal organs of the body. Lifting weights harms the kidneys and, which is especially important for women's health, can cause the uterus prolapse;

  • It badly affects the backbone and can lead to a spinal hernia;

  • It is strictly forbidden for pregnant women to lift heavy items; this can lead to pregnancy complications and ambloma.

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