“If the administration of Mazyr Oil Refinery shows goodwill”, - adds Uladzimir Matskevich.
Yury Shvets, head of the Independent Trade Union (ITU)'s chapter at Mazyr Oil Refinery, went on a three-day hunger strike on Monday, October 14, in protest against the alleged persecution of its members.
The organization has been under constant pressure from the management since 2008, Mr. Shvets told BelaPAN, describing its recent decision to dismiss five ITU activists as "the last straw”." The employment contracts of spouses Henadz and Tatsiana Babrounikau, Uladzimir Kliuchnikau, Aliaksei Jarmak, and Ivan Shaban were no prolonged for far-fetched reasons”, he said.
Mr. Shvets said that he would continue working during his hunger strike.
In an interview with BelaPAN, Henadz Tsetsiaruk, deputy director general of Mazyr Oil Refinery, said that the management of the company had been notified of its employee's protest. "He demanded that we reverse the reprimands issued to fellow members of the Independent Trade Union," Mr. Tsetsiaruk said. "However, we cannot accept his ultimatum. The disciplinary action taken against the individuals in question was absolutely legal. It's not clear why he has gone on a hunger strike instead of complaining to the industrial dispute commission or filing a suit."
Uladzimir Matskevich, the head of the Board of the International Consortium “EuroBelarus”, assumes that hunger strike can be effective in case if a hunger striker has a clear understanding of the essence of the problem, has a concrete addressee, who is capable to resolve the problem, and the means to resolve it.
“The situation at the Mazyr Oil Refinery can be easily resolved by cancelling an unfair decision of the plant management, reinstating theredundant workers in their former jobs and coming back to a zero point. There is some actor, who infringed the rights of the workers; there is law, and the possibility to restore it. Thus, the hunger strike has every chance to be effective. Of course, ifthe administration of Mazyr petroleum refinery shows goodwill”, - Uladzimir Matskevich added.
Let us recall that on October 28, 2006 Uladzimir Matskevich went on a hunger strike in sympathy with the “New Life” Church, which was deprived of the propriety right for the church building by the authorities. Uladzimir Matskevich said then that the case of New Life shows a model strategy of the ruling regime — and sets an example of a strategy for civil society: “This community demonstrates its unity and determination to do whatever it takes to fight for their rights and not to give up whatever the actions of the regime are. That is why the community wins local conflicts with the regime. The regime accepts those local defeats, but keeps to its strategic goals. It keeps pressing the church, but never goes till the end. Why? Because the authorities do not really want to destroy the community, but just to see how it prevails, and watches if it can become a core for consolidation of other forces in civil society. So, the regime leaves the New Life community alone for some time — until it needs to check the state of protest readiness of the civil society again”, - commented Uladzimir Matskevich upon that situation.
“The hunger strikers laid down quite concrete demands: to return the building, to abolish the unfair court decision. I joined the hunger strike in solidarity with the members of the “New Life” Church and to raise the problems of freedom, conscience, faith, arbitrary rule and lawlessness as such”, - told Uladzimir Matskevich.
It should be noticed that the hunger strike was successful, and the church building was defended and returned in result.