Updated at 17:25,07-01-2021

Aleksandr Yaroshuk: Hundreds of skilled workers run from Belarus

Last week, the leader of the Free Trade Union of Lukoml hydroelectric plant Aleksey Gabriel raised a question of wage increases, addressing to management of the company.

It must be increased by 100%, said Gabriel, because people leave their jobs, and literally, the whole teams go to work in Russia.

- Today, the problem is relevant no only in one enterprise in Lukoml, - the leader of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions Aleksandr Yaroshuk says. - In areas adjacent to Russia there is a mass exodus of personnel. This is especially true in such strategic areas as energy and oil refining. In Russia, in similar enterprises salaries are several times higher. There, even the average salary is already higher than $800 per month. On the example of Lukoml hydroelectric plant, I think we should talk about this phenomenon as a problem of national importance, a very dangerous trend. What is particularly alarming: highly skilled staff are leaving Belarus, and Russian companies are interested in such labor, they find channels themselves and come with these proposals to relevant Belarusian plants.

- Can you name specific numbers?

- Officially, there is no such statistics. But the representatives of our organization departments, including such enterprises as Mozyr refinery "Naftan", they say, that dozens and even hundreds of people are leaving. There is a mass exodus of specialists in the enterprises of Orsha, such cases became frequent in Mogilev.

There is no doubt, that these facts known to the authorities. But I think, the proper interpretation is not happening. Although in reality this is very alarming phenomenon, especially in light of the fact that we are building the common economic space with Russia. After all, it is clear that the income gap between Russians and Belarusians is so high, that soon, we will be left without any skilled workers.

- It turns out, that Belarusians protest against low salaries only by dismissal. Why don't they require an adequate assessment of their work? Where are trade unions, which should stand up for protecting the workers' interests?

- For example, in refineries our trade union organizations influence on the wage levels by participating in the negotiation of collective agreements. Largely due to activity of our trade unions at "Les" enterprise in Orsha, they managed to maintain more or less high level of wages. I can not say that the official trade unions - the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus - are indifferent to this problem. In the FTUB at the branch level within enterprises, in the primary organizations there are many people who raise these questions. But, unfortunately, the FTUB's management prefers not to aggravate the problem of personnel exodus, not to stick out it, because the policy of a trade union is consonant with the official: there is no crisis.