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Tsikhanouskaya: Unions are about an opportunity to stand for oneself

A post supporting imprisoned Belarusian union leaders has now appeared on Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s official page.

April 19, 2024, marked the Day of Action for Union Rights and Democracy in Belarus with its demands to release the imprisoned Belarusian union leaders. Trade union and political leaders from all over the world have taken part in this initiative. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya joined the action too.

The politician remembered that day, a tragedy for the whole labour movement in Belarus, on her social media page:

Propaganda loves calling Belarus a social state. Yet, the rights to work and social protection have long become irrelevant in the country. They have been replaced by the obligation to pay membership dues and attend “information meetings” where the blame for all hardships is put on the West and America. As soon as one shows indignation and points out that a social state is supposed to take care of workers’ health or pick up the tab for medical treatment of children, one faces a term in prison on criminal charges. What charges? Incitement of social discord, for instance, as in the case of the union activists Vatslav Areshka and Vasily Beresniau.

Trade unions are not about “bringing workers to events just to be there in big numbers”. They are about defending rights and freedoms; they are an opportunity to stand for oneself and win decent wages and respect. They are about the observance of contemporary labour standards. I am confident that Belarusians are perfectly aware of this and know what they want. They want to see that their opinions matter, that it is their interests that are protected rather that the interests of those who are quick to abuse others for personal gains, intimidating people with brutal violence and imprisonment.

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