Belarusian Trade Union of Entrepreneurs "Vmeste" ("Together") held a protest action in the city of Vitebsk

By StreetNet International
July 1, 2014
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In early June 2014, a significant part of all entrepreneurs of Vitebsk city markets stopped working for one day. They had a protest action day due to facing big problems regarding the implementation of the technical regulations of the Customs Union: from July 1, 2014 entrepreneurs of Belarus are under threat of confiscation of the rests of their goods for which there are no documents confirming their quality. In this case, entrepreneurs under the leadership of the trade union "Vmeste", prepared an appeal letter to the country President Alexander Lukashenko.

According to the requirements of the Customs Union technical regulations (which includes such countries, like: Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan), all goods which entrepreneurs sell out at the markets in Belarus, should have a special quality certificates. Even if the things are bought in wholesale warehouses in neighboring Russia, namely Belarusian entrepreneurs are obliged to make the expertise of theirs goods to confirm that they do not harm the buyers. There is a special laboratory where all the quality of goods has to be checked and entrepreneurs have to pay money for this.

Chairwoman of the Trade Union of Entrepreneurs "Vmeste," Irina Yaskevich explains this situation:

"If we live in a common customs space, the laws and regulations of our states should be the same. At least, if the Russian entrepreneurs are not required to confirm the quality of their selling goods, it would also be logical not to require such certificates from the Belarusian entrepreneurs. We addressed this problem to the city executive committee, the regional executive committee, and realized: this problem should be solved at the state level".

Yashevich continued to state that If Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree No. 222, which said that the remains of previously purchased goods, it can safely sell until March next year. "But it looks like this is not known to officials of the standardization and hygiene departments. They are guided by the regulation where the need to have quality certificates is stipulated for now. Give us the opportunity to buy the goods where we used to buy them and give us the opportunity to sell out the remaining."

According to Irina Yaskevich’s calculation, around 60% of entrepreneurs in Vitebsk city didn’t come to work to sell during the protest action day. They were supported by traders from Lepel and Beshenkovichi cities, and partially – from other regions of Belarus.

Belarus entrepreneurs intentionally avoid the word "strike" or "protest action" as they are afraid of being repressed. That’s why, in the shopping center "Evicom" on the closed blinds there are signs from the traders of different content: about "leaving for getting new goods", "technical break", and even "on vacations". A copy of appeal letter prepared by the union to the president and his administration is glued on the stall window at the workplace of the union chairwoman of entrepreneurs "Vmeste" Irina Yaskevich.

As for the appeal letter itself, there are few points in its content to equalize the rights of all entrepreneurs of the Customs Union – both Russian and Belarusian; the Belarusian traders shouldn’t be required to have separate certificates of quality on the territory of the customs zone. The entrepreneurs also asked in the letter to be allowed to freely sell out the remains of goods and help to make all the goods remained affordable for ordinary buyers – in order not to add any costs to the price of individual items which could be spent on the certification.

Just recently, the trade union of entrepreneurs "Vmeste" has received three formal response letters from the Ministries of Belarus, which have more explanatory nature, and which reported that a decision on the entrepreneurs’ request will be sent, but how soon, it’s not clear yet.

Source: Radio Liberty

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