Yesterday, on the day of the nationwide strike, several workers of Belorusneft Petroleum Company joined it. Six employees of the Department of Production and Geophysical Works recorded a video message in which they protested against violence and lawlessness in the country. By end of the day, all the men in the video were fired.
TUT.BY contacted them to find out why they decided to take such a step and whether they regret their morning act.
The video featured electronic engineer Vladimir Kaylev, heads of the development geophysics party Sergey Polyakov and Andrey Koval, as well as three machinists Andrey Kondratenko, Andrey Shulzhenok and Maxim Saponchik. All are residents of Rechitsa.
All of them have been working at the enterprise for many years, received a good salary, and up to some point were quite happy with their lives. But, they say, everything ended in August.
“Well, how can one live in peace when lawlessness is happening in the country, when people are beaten and killed? Tell me, how can you live and pretend that nothing is happening?” Vladimir Kaylev says emotionally to TUT.BY.
His colleague Sergei Polyakov is engaged in well examination – and he has the same civic position. “You see, not everything in this life is measured by money. When such things happen, you don’t want that money,” explains Sergei.
At first, the men say, they simply took part in protest rallies, although recently they were no longer given the opportunity to do so in Rechitsa. The management, they say, knew about their position, but they did not fire them: it is not so easy to find geophysicists of their level.
The men admit that the crackdown on the protesters during the People’s Ultimatum March in Minsk on Sunday, 26 October, was the last straw.“We watched the video and were just horrified – this is a real war! They shoot their own unarmed people. How could this happen to Belarusians?”
In the evening, in a corporate chat room, they organized a vote and asked to make a choice: who is for the strike and who is against it.
“Out of 37 people in the group, 15 voted ‘in favour’ and nobody chose ‘against’, that is, the rest abstained. We agreed that we will meet at the entrance at 8 am. More people came but only six decided to participate in the recording,” says Sergey Polyakov.
An hour after the video was published, the heads of the enterprise arrived from Gomel to have a conversation with the employees. The men were strongly requested to “refute their act.” But they were adamant and made it clear that they did not intend to give up their civil position. In the evening, money came to their salary cards, that is “the final paycheck and it means that we are fired” the men say.
The workers assure that they do not regret what they did. On the contrary, “we have a feeling of lightness and joy, because we are confident that we are right.”
“We were mentally prepared for this. We have been living in this nightmare for more than two months now, but enough is enough. We can’t take it anymore. We are the first, but we are not the last. Many colleagues stand in solidarity with us, they are just afraid to express their opinion openly.”
Well, what will you do now? Rechitsa is a small town and it is not easy to find a job.
“Do not worry. We have money for the first time. Moreover, you have no idea how many people wrote to us today, called and expressed their support. Our people will definitely not let us down. There has never been such solidarity among Belarusians. We should thank Lukashenko for that,” the men say with smiles on their faces.
On Tuesday morning, representatives of the enterprise’s administration briefly commented on the situation.
“The employees were fired for violation of labour laws. The details are just between the employee and the employer, so we cannot comment on this. All subdivisions of ‘Belorusneft’ are operating normally, there are no production stops.”