Miners from Soligorsk, Belarus: “Every day until the end”

By Rubén Tzanoff

The International Socialist League supports the ongoing workers’ and people´s struggle.

Since its beginnings, we have been reflecting the people´s actions against electoral fraud and repression, for democratic freedoms and social rights, against the authoritarianism of Lukashenko and his authoritarian regime.

The fight is very tough, there are threats from the factory managers, the official union bureaucrats, there are persecutions and a strong pressure from the state apparatus. Still, the workers hold assemblies, strike committees and mobilize, trying to advance in organization and coordination.

Our comrades continue to send us information on daily actions, particularly those carried out by the most militant sectors of the working class. And among many other examples, there is news that highlights what the miners are doing in Soligorsk, on the front lines of the indefinite strike and of the demonstrations with the people. It is not something strange, since the Belarusian Independent Union intervenes, headed by leaders who did not sell out to the bosses or the government, they are democratic fighters, who defend the interests of their co-workers, something we know first hand.

Below, we reproduce an article that has come to us from the Eastern European country in struggle, published in NAVINY BY, with the aim of providing information and promoting the support of the peoples for the Belarusian rebellion.

Every day until the end! How Soligorsk miners go on strike. Despite strong pressure from the Belaruskali leadership, the Soligorsk miners continue an indefinite strike. They are ready for a hunger strike. In the morning, the central square of Soligorsk is crowded. The miners have gathered here. Since August 17 they have declared an indefinite strike. Belaruskali employees demand the recognition of the results of the presidential elections as invalid, the bringing of Alexander Lukashenko and the head of the Central Election Commission, Lidia Yermoshina to justice for crimes against the people, and the release of all political prisoners and participants in peaceful protests.

A strike committee was created in the company. According to the strike committee, more than 4,000 people signed up for the strike. More than 15 thousand people work in Belaruskali. The active part of the strikers will not go to work. They meet every day in the city center. “I have three children, now my wife is pregnant with our fourth, but I go all the way. Our entire brigade (12 people) is on strike. The neighboring brigade is also here. I am against this regime. We are tired of being afraid,” Vadim Shchitkovets, a machinist from the fourth mining department, told Naviny.by.

Most of the potash workers went to work because they need to “feed their families and pay off loans.” Employees of the first mining department said that at their workplaces they are carrying out an Italian strike, either working very slowly or not working at all. According to the strike committee on the morning of August 20, only one mine out of six was not working, the rest, to one degree or another, received ore at the surface. All the enrichment factories worked; there are four in the company. The miners’ strike is taking place under unprecedented pressure from the company´s administration. Workers are threatened with loss of bonuses, layoffs, and even criminal liability.

Recently Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said that the obstacle to the company’s work is direct damage to the production process. According to him, if the company suffers losses, the people who caused the damage will be liable according to the law. “The company management did a good brainwashing among the strikers. In particular, the general manager [Ivan Golovaty] arrived at the sites and, through moral pressure, as well as disinformation, tried to convince the mining and tunneling foremen to start working,” said the press attaché of the strike committee, Gleb Sandros. – In particular, he assured that the site where he is located is the only one that is on strike. Naturally, the workers began to doubt and doubt. At the moment, some of them are demoralized and the morale of some has dropped. This was the calculation. “But we do not intend to go back, because there is no space for that.”

The Solihorsk miners have the experience of a successful strike. It took place in the spring of 1992. Then the miners demanded higher wages. The strike lasted 44 days. Belaruskali workers stopped their work, the ore was not brought to the surface. The miners blocked the transportation with products to enforce their demands. More than a dozen employees were starving in the lobby of the corporate administration.

“Then there were purely economic demands. Our salaries have increased 3.2 times. Then everything went well for us,” said then-strike committee chairman Nikolai Zimin, who had worked in Belaruskali for 35 years.

Now the Belarusian authorities are trying to convince the population that the striking miners are acting outside the legal framework. They say that, according to the law, consent for the strike must be granted by half of the labor force and that only economic, not political, demands can be filed. “Now is the most important moment of our life. They scare us, they talk about some kind of illegal strike. But a man crossed the line of the law when he started shooting at us in the streets. So what kind of legality can we talk about now? We want them to answer for killing people. We have the support of our co-workers around the world. They are ready to help us in whatever they want, even to the point of getting on the rails to prevent the products going out. Now only the most important thing remains: fighting every day until the end!” – said the President of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union Maxim Poznyakov at the rally, who came to support the striking miners.

In Soligorsk they understand the weight of responsibility, the whole country is looking at them. The striking miners are ready to go to the last resort and go on a hunger strike.