Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

300 thousand Belarusians work short week

Figures of involuntary unemployment are huge. 120,000 persons out of 300,000 working part-time working week do not receive any wages at all.

According to the information of the Belarusian Federation of Trade Unions announced by its head Leanid Kozik the other day, about 300 thousand people have to work halftime in our country now.

"Our monitoring shows: about 300,000 employees have to work halftime in our country now. This number is much harsher than the one mentioned by the government. But the thing that worries us most is that about 40% out of this 300,000 do not receive money at all. They are sent to unpaid furlough. And it is absolutely improper certainly," Kozik said in an interview to "Sovetskaya Belorussiya".

"European Radio for Belarus" has found out whether the people really agreed to such a reduction of staff. The head of the legal advice office of the Federation of Trade Unions Uladzimir Shalkovich has explained that administrations do not have to ask their employees for any permission to make them work half-time. On the contrary, they may be fired if they do not agree to the decision of their administration.

"The employer informs them about the situation and says that they will work four days a week starting from the next week. If employees agree to it, the law does not oblige to inform them a month before. Others say: "If the situation is like this, you should warn us and we will decide everything according to the law". In this case such workers will continue working according to the old schedule for a month and then the employer will be able to introduce the new schedule for them. If somebody says they would like to work according to the old schedule, it will be preserved for them for one more month and then they will be dismissed according to p.5 of article 35. Employees do not have to write any appeals – the employer decides everything", Uladzimir Shalkovich stated.

A MAZ worker Uladzimir Druhakou has confirmed that the administration does not ask workers for permission before making them work half-time. According to him, he and his colleagues used to get 1 million a month and now they get 800-900 thousands. Some people look for additional jobs, others leave.

"Our average wage used to be about 1 million when we were on full time the whole month. If we work only 15 days a month, we get about 800 or 900 thousands. Those who think it is not enough have to find additional jobs. Young people who find other jobs just leave", the MAZ worker said.

Those who have to rent a flat or to pay a credit suffer most. The MAZ worker says that more and more people are beginning to think about leaving – people do not believe that the situation may change for the better.

The situation is like this not only at MAZ, says one of the leaders of the independent Belarusian trade unions Alyaksandr Yarashuk.

"These problems concern all machine-building enterprises. For example, the Tractor plant and the enterprises working for the Tractor plant. The same can be said about the machine-tool construction."

All the economic policy is directed at the moment when Russian markets will open and Belarus will start selling our products to Russia again, he said. "But we cannot be sure it will happen".

As said by Yarashuk, it means that the number of people working half-time will not decrease soon. Yarashuk does not believe that the number announced by Kozik (300 thousands) is true.

Yarashuk says much more people work part-time working week. However, he agrees that 40% of those people are furloughed. Even according to the official information, 120 thousand people do not get paid at all. According to him, the number will keep increasing.