Vendors at Minsk's Chervenski market threaten to go on strike
Some 350 vendors operating at Minsk’s Chervenski market adopted a resolution on Wednesday, threatening to go on strike in protest against the coming closure of the retail market for redevelopment.
In the resolution, the vendors accused the authorities of ignoring their "fair demands" and called on Mikalay Ladutska and representatives of Iran's Didas, which is to invest some $100 million in the redevelopment project providing for the construction of a modern trading complex, to meet with them to discuss their woes.
Some 800 vendors currently operate at the Chervenski market.
At a meeting with Chervenski vendors in June, Mr. Ladutska promised that a new trading area would be developed to allow them to continue operation. But in late October, Alyaksandr Kalinowski, a senior official of the Minsk City Executive Committee, told the vendors that no funds had been earmarked to build a new market.
The city authorities suggested that the vendors could move to another market or shopping center, invest in new trading space at the Chervenski market off-plan or set up a group to build a new trading area in the city. They also promised to build a new market in place of Chervenski in the Loshytsa neighborhood in two years or earlier.
Vasil Baranowski, a vendor running a stall at Chervenski, told BelaPAN on Wednesday that the vendors felt deceived.
Rent rates at the three-story market that the city authorities plan to build in Loshytsa are likely to be high, said Mr. Baranowski. "Meanwhile, prices charged by market vendors depend on the rent rates", he noted.
Moreover, Mr. Baranowski said, the city authorities promised that lower rent rates would be offered to Chervenski vendors who would like to move to another shopping center or market, but the promise is not being fulfilled.
He added that 3,500 local residents had put their signatures to a petition against replacing the low-cost market with a modern trading center.
"People are very angry at being deceived", commented Anatol Shumchanka, leader of a small business association called Perspektyva. "Proposals for strike action were voiced today. If the authorities fail to make good on their promise, Chervenski vendors will surely go on strike".
"Minskers should ask point-blank why the authorities pursue unpopular policies and ignore the opinion of a majority of those living in the capital city", said Mr. Shumchanka. "I am also referring to the removal of private vendors’ kiosks and the closure of markets. Nothing like this is happening in provinces. The brakes have been put on the development of private enterprise in Minsk and it has been brought to a standstill. It is necessary to look for solutions".