Strikes at Enterprises Continue
On June 1, workers of a house-building factory in Vitebsk refused to start work until they were paid their salaries.
Despite the increase in average wages in the country and economic stability, the situation at two enterprises remains tense. A decline in the pace of wages growth and breach of payment schedule immediately leads to social protests.
In contrast to the field of international policy, where Belarus continues its policy of pendulum by selectively fulfilling the requirements of the West and the Kremlin, Belarus’ internal social policy needs to be firm and the authorities need to act accordingly. They need to raise wages and to comply with the schedule of payments. Otherwise, labor collectives immediately go on strike.
Such a scenario was used in 2011 several times; it repeated at the house-building factory in Vitebsk. The salary was only one day delayed, however approximately one hundred employees of one of the factory’s department refused to start work and demanded to pay their salaries at once.
It is expected that the country’s authorities will continue to fulfill their promises to raise wages and to comply with the schedule of payments. At present, it is the only way for the government to avoid social protests.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.