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 could to step up the opposition representation in local councils, should party members demonstrate potency. The Belarusian leadership is unlikely to have the resources to ensure 100 percent pro-government candidates in the local elections. The authorities have exhausted the grassroot support and have no funds to pay for the loyalty.
The Belarusian Central Election Commission has proposed to hold the elections to the local Councils of Deputies on February 18th, 2018.
The president has repeatedly emphasised the importance of the local councils in the power system and the state machine always tried to ensure the necessary local election results. Candidates have been decreasing in number with each elections and the authorities dealt with that by reducing the deputy corps. That said, during the rule of President Lukashenka, his electoral base has changed substantially. Over the past decade, most Belarusians have moved to cities and lost their local roots. The rural population is ready to support the president, but rural residents are constantly decreasing in number.
The Belarusian leadership is likely to permit broad participation in the election campaign and an increase in alternative representatives in the local councils. However, the opposition would have to boost its activity, so as so far it has been passive in defending its interests. In addition, the authorities, while determining the date for the local elections, have taken into account the fact that the opposition is usually the least active in the winter time.
Overall, both, the opposition and the local authorities have exhausted their grassroot support, however new local leaders may still come on political stage, although the party opposition has not yet shown sufficient aspirations.