At the same time, despite the actions of the security forces, the protesters began to gather back. According to Tut.by, in the area of Victory Square and Yakub Kolas Square (the center of the capital), a column of people has formed again. According to Radio Liberty Belarus, the protesters tried to block the road near Yakub Kolas Square, and arrests began. Later, the people in this square were dispersed.
The first day of the “nationwide strike” in Belarus. Photo report
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The leader of the opposition of Belarus and ex-presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya announced on October 26 the beginning of a nationwide strike. She threatened that because of the authorities’ failure to comply with the opposition’s demands, there would be business strikes, road blockages and a “collapse” in state stores.
At the end of October, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko announced a change in tactics towards the protesters. According to him, the authorities will “quietly” find every participant in unauthorized actions using modern technology.
Protests in Belarus have continued since August 9. The opposition does not accept and considers the results of the presidential elections to be falsified, which, according to the CEC, was won by Alexander Lukashenko. Russia considers Lukashenko’s victory to be legitimate. Lukashenko has repeatedly accused Western countries of organizing the protests, which, in his opinion, want to destroy the country.
Participants of the march of students and pensioners have gathered on Yakub Kolas Square in Minsk, the security forces have not yet carried out arrests. The movement of the march is reported in Telegram by Nasha Niva and Tut.by.
The first day of the “national strike” in Belarus. Photo report
Those gathered came to the square with red and white symbols. According to Tut.by, the pensioners began to sing and dance. The concerned residents of the city brought tea to the protesters.
Detentions began at protests in Minsk
According to Tut.by estimates, as the march moved to the square, its number increased to 7-8 thousand people. In addition to pensioners and students, doctors joined the rally. On Yakub Kolas Square (Soviet writer and playwright from Belarus. – RBK) Kolas’ granddaughter Maria Mitskevich was seen among the participants of the action.
Shortly before the third round of wage agreements in the public service, the social democrat Ulrich Mägde explained what he thought of the recent warning strikes: They were not appropriate because they would “punish” other employees, for example because the daycare center went on strike, according to the negotiator of the municipalities . In general, these are “rituals of the past few years”. Maids delegitimizes labor disputes as out of date, which company representatives like to do. One could expect otherwise from an SPD politician whose party emerged as part of the labor movement.
After all, complaints are the most important means of exerting pressure on employees and their trade unions in order to achieve better working conditions. Without the right to strike, collective bargaining would be nothing more than “collective begging”, as the Federal Labor Court put it in 1980.
It can now be argued that Mägde only criticized the most recent warning strikes. However, he points out that the pandemic will have financial consequences for years. So will work stoppages continue to be insubordinate in the next few years? In addition, his anti-strike argument is a long-runner, regardless of whether there is a crisis: when work is stopped in daycare centers or at the railroad, the consequences for commuters or parents are always lamented.
Anyone who wants to strengthen the right to strike in the service sector could consider how such undesirable side effects can be mitigated. Politicians could, for example, legally ensure that parents are entitled to continued wages in the event of daycare strikes. Or how about short-time work benefits for mothers and fathers? Such services were once common when employees of a company were sent home because there was a strike elsewhere and, for example, the delivery stopped. Politicians restricted this aid years ago. It can also secure the right to strike again by softening the “long-range effects” of strikes in industry and in the service sector for employees.
The rectors of Baiko, led by José Ramón Garai, its general director, will meet again this afternoon in Bilbao with the representatives of the fifteen pelotaris that make up the strike committee, whose representatives are Ibai Zabala and Mikel Larunbe, to try to redirect a situation that has become entrenched and with the aim of reaching an agreement that satisfies both parties.
The call came from the Bilbao promoter last Friday, an hour after hearing the order of the Social Chamber of the Court of Justice of the Basque Country (TSJPV), which suspended the final of the Couples Championship on Sunday in the fronton Bizkaia de Bilbao between Olaizola II-Urrutikoetxea and Ezkurdia-Martija, by implementing precautionary measures after validating the requirements requested by the pelotaris through the ELA union to defend the right to strike of Agirre and Albisu in the last match of the Semi-final league, to whom Borja Osés, Sole Competition Judge of the Companies League, declared the match 22-0 lost by forfeit at the Bizkaia fronton.
The first contact between the two parties after the declaration of a strike by the Baiko manistas took place on Wednesday 7, also in Bilbao, and ended without an agreement. The pelotaris were very disappointed when they considered that they did not receive any response to their demands, or proposals to solve the conflict from Garai. After consulting with their colleagues, they decided not to wear white for the duration of the strike.
Resume the contract negotiations of the Pelotaris Eskiroz, Víctor, Laso and Mariezkurrena and carry them out in good faith, without threats.
Achieve a company agreement that regulates the minimum conditions, the suspension of the internal regime currently in force and economic transparency with the pelotaris.
A mobile phone camera pans across the Am Sande square in Lüneburg. It’s raining. People stand in strike vests, with union flags and umbrellas in their hands – wearing a mask and keeping their distance. Detlef Ahting, District Manager Lower Saxony of the Verdi service union, calls out to those present: »You are worth it! You keep the shop going! «There are two central sentences in the collective bargaining round for over 2.3 million people in the public service of the federal government and municipalities.
About 3700 strike in Cologne, 4000 in Berlin, over 300 in Potsdam. But also in Munich, Landshut, Reutlingen, Bremerhaven, Eckernförde, Hanover, Kiel and many other cities. Verdi called for the protests under the motto “3 days – 300 actions”. The livestream went all over the country on Wednesday, with live interviews of strikes and films. With the strikes and rallies, the unions want to increase the pressure on employers in the third round of negotiations starting on Thursday. In the run-up to the collective bargaining round, the unions had asked their members and were often told that strikes were not the best option during the pandemic. But the behavior of the employers drove many out of the company and onto the streets. “In the spring there was clapping from the balconies, now we’re getting the clap from the employers,” another central sentence in this collective bargaining round. “Ulrich Mädge clearly contributed to the mobilization,” Verdi spokesman Jan Jurczyk told “nd”. Girl, this is the president of the Association of Local Employers’ Associations (VKA). He leads the collective bargaining in Potsdam for the municipalities, alongside Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU), who negotiates for federal employees. In the past few weeks, Mädge had repeatedly drawn the anger of the employees. Most recently on Wednesday he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the employers had already gone “over the pain threshold” with their offer. In the interview, he described the strikes as “unnecessary”.
The trade unions Verdi, GEW and Deutscher Beamtenbund und Tarifunion (dbb) had unanimously described the offer made by employers at the end of last week as completely inadequate. They are demanding, among other things, 4.8 percent, but at least 150 euros more per month and an increase in training fees by 100 euros; with a term of twelve months. VKA and the federal government had offered 3.5 percent more over three years and a minimum amount of 30 euros. “If they go a step further, then you can agree,” said dbb spokesman Frank Zitka. But it won’t be easy. With the increasing number of infections it will not be easier to call for action, “but if there is no other way, we will strike again,” says Zitka. Daniel Merbitz is the tariff expert for the Education and Science Union (GEW). He expects “very difficult negotiations”. The employers had praised the employees in Sunday speeches “and are now looking into allegedly empty coffers” and said there was nothing to distribute, the GEW board member told “nd”. The trade unionist speaks of “unworthy behavior” on the part of employers who should now take the “path of reason”.
GEW spokesman Ulf Rödde emphasized that the unions had offered to postpone the collective bargaining round until next spring because of the pandemic. The employers had refused. “They probably thought that the unions would not be able to mobilize workers in the pandemic and that they could get a cheap deal through. But they did the math without the unions. “
Verdi spokesman Jurczyk called an agreement this weekend “very demanding, but possible”. But he could hardly imagine that the collective bargaining parties would be able to bridge the great distance on Friday. On the one hand, the »counterclaims« by employers for demolitions and massive interference with the savings bank allowance would have to be ruled off the table. On the other hand, a large number of Verdi members in the lower wage groups would benefit from the minimum contribution. Therefore this must be increased significantly. When the unions and employers come together again in Potsdam, a big machine will be set in motion. The negotiating committee negotiates, the collective bargaining commissions are ready to find out about the current status of the talks and to pass this on to the colleagues on site. And in the background experts keep calculating individual points: What does it cost if the minimum contribution increases to 80 euros? What percentage of the total qualification does it make up if the training allowances increase by ten euros a month?
Several outcomes are possible: there is an agreement or not. If there is no agreement, a fourth negotiation date could be set or the parties involved declare the collective bargaining to have failed. In that case either the arbitration is called or the unions call on their members to vote on an indefinite strike. The talks are scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
The exception regulation for reporting sickness by telephone has recently made it possible to self-suffice. In doing so, the federal government is inevitably embarking on a path that could fundamentally change the German world of work.
Until the end of 2020, patients who suffer from mild respiratory diseases can be given sick leave by telephone. In the first Corona wave, it was possible from March 10 to June 23, 2020 to receive a certificate of incapacity for work for up to 14 days. The federal government is thus breaking new ground.
The exemptions are based on the justified assessment that the waiting rooms could become sources of disease. The regulation formed the legal basis for a wave of sick leave, which at the beginning of the pandemic almost resembled a general strike. With the first wave in March 2020 there was a wave of massive amounts of sick leave from wage earners. Their refusal to go to work and send their children to school helped trigger the initial lockdown. This was in no way controlled purely from above, but the state governments gave in to a massive impulse from the population.
This passive refusal by wage earners remains underexposed in the public debate. The working people were not victims, but the engine of history.
Before that, the unreasonable demands of the working people increased steadily. Corona marks a deep cut in the neoliberal world of work. The suppression of illnesses with chemical agents, doping for the workplace, was seen in neoliberalism as a sign of heroism and willingness to make sacrifices, as a commitment to the company and its goals. But in recent years the number of sick leave has increased again.
The 2015 German Wings catastrophe can be seen as a harbinger of this cultural change. The suicidal pilot, who killed 144 passengers and 6 crew members, had come to work sick, possibly the working conditions had made him sick. As a result, the pilots succeeded in doing something seldom seen. They were able to curb presentism (going to work sick) successfully at Ryanair, they even successfully went on strike at TUIfly through a collective sick-party, a »sick-out«.
Until the 1980s, celebrating sickness was considered a form of individual strike, which, according to official statistics, was actually used intensively as an alternative strategy in a notoriously strike-free country like Germany in order to alleviate growing work pressure. But there was, unexplored by social science and shamefully concealed by the trade unions, celebrating sickness as a form of protest and collective passive resistance in the event of dissatisfaction and conflicts in the company. Occasionally, in the 1970s and 80s, assembly line workers took full or half shifts on sick leave when work was tough.
Legislators, HR managers and corporate consultants have targeted and ultimately successfully combated this “sick party culture”. Those who were absent more often came on the hit list; Anyone who fell ill during their probationary period was automatically kicked out in many industries.
The consequences of this neoliberal cultural change in the world of work – which was greatly increased by the pressure to perform, work intensification and fear of Hartz IV – were: a widespread presentism, burnout as a widespread disease and bullying as a mass phenomenon and as an expression of general pressure to perform.
The corona pandemic may mean a cultural break with this socially harmful cult of performance. But with the telephone sick leave also come new dangers: In areas where the employees are under great pressure (“systemically important professions”), are badly organized, have no works councils and active unions on their side, HR managers may now be tempted to do Even to increase the pressure. Because neoliberalism follows the logic: There is no alternative to our recipes; if they don’t work, the dose needs to be increased.
In order to fight for a nationwide framework collective bargaining agreement in local public transport, Verdi has been conducting warning strikes since the end of September. Are you satisfied with how the strike has gone so far?
Yes, on the part of our ability to mobilize, it went very well, that can’t be done better because almost all of the 130 public transport companies were completely at a standstill. For us this is also a great confirmation that we are doing exactly what our members expect of us. The level of organization, which is already high in local public transport, has increased again in the wake of the strikes.
After the Association of Municipal Employers’ Associations (VKA) initially sent positive signals, in the course of September it declared itself not formally responsible for the nationwide negotiations. That was the trigger for the warning strikes. Last week, Verdi gave the VKA a period of reflection. What happens now?
The VKA says that it still has no mandate to negotiate with us because the individual municipal employers’ associations did not give it this mandate at a general meeting on September 19th. Because of this formal difficulty, Verdi’s Federal Negotiating Commission has now proposed not to continue on strike at federal level for the time being in the next two weeks, but to seek a conversation again and work out a solution on how we can improve working conditions while taking this formal hurdle into account reachable. We don’t know whether it’s really just the formal hurdles.
What exactly does the missing mandate mean?
Since the municipal employers’ associations are also our negotiating partners in the collective bargaining negotiations taking place in parallel in the federal states, this does not end the conflict that we want to resolve at the federal level. There is a risk that our demands, if we do not regulate them uniformly across the country for everyone, will fall to the state level. That would be extremely conflictual for everyone involved. We now hope that the VKA will work with us to find a solution on how to settle this conflict and not suddenly turn one conflict into fifteen conflicts.
The mass strike that some have hoped for from a possible merger with the current collective bargaining strike in the public sector and the participation of Fridays for Future has not materialized so far. Are possible synergies too little used?
At the district level there are definitely simultaneous actions between the two collective bargaining rounds. Nevertheless, it is important that the collective bargaining round in public transport is an independent collective bargaining round. When the colleagues strike out on public transport and the public service, they make it clear that these are two important areas of society whose working conditions urgently need to be improved. We want to show that. It is not our goal to cause problems for everyone by crippling the country.
In a broad alliance with the climate activists from Fridays for Future, the BUND and Attac, Verdi attended the State Transport Ministers’ Conference (VMK) last Wednesday. What do you expect from the appeal to the federal government?
In local public transport we have the problem that the municipalities are responsible, but due to the crisis they are not in a position to make the necessary investments to bring about the transport turnaround. That is why we are calling for a public transport summit in this alliance.
What should be achieved through this?
There, the federal government, the federal states, local authorities, the transport companies and trade unions are supposed to come to a table to agree on a new financing structure as well as climate policy and urban planning goals. The chairman of the VMK and Saarland transport minister, Anke Rehlinger (SPD), had promised both in a preliminary talk and in the context of the VMK to join us in the conception of such a summit. For such a summit, we primarily need two departments: the Ministry of Transport and the Federal Ministry of Finance. We also have expectations of the parties in the coming election year.
The number of infections in the corona pandemic is currently rising sharply again. Does the strike fit into this time?
Actually, especially in this time of crisis, you have to approach each other and agree on an understanding and appreciation. Because the labor dispute is not something we do for fun, it is the result of the immobile attitude of the employer. The employees are finally expecting a signal.
Press release of the »Abolish Nonviolent Action GÜZ« from October 20th: War opponent defends anti-militarist occupation in court
On Tuesday, an opponent of the war was sentenced by the Bonn District Court to a fine of 100 euros. As part of the non-violent campaign to abolish the GÜZ, she entered the combat training center (GÜZ) Altmark last summer to disrupt the practice. In front of the court, supporters protested against the war exercises of the Bundeswehr and the imposition of fines on activists as part of a vigil with corona distance.
Julia Weise, 23 year old student of cultural studies, argued in court: »We entered the Altmark Combat Training Center of the Bundeswehr with 25 people. In doing so, we did not cross pacification. Still, I knew what I was doing at that moment: I was entering a military security area. And for several reasons. 1. This is the place where war is practiced. According to the Bundeswehr, all soldiers who are deployed abroad are in training here beforehand. War causes suffering. 2. Wars in violation of international law are being prepared. 3. This place is rented out. Profit is made here with war. 4. The Colbitz-Letzlinger Heide is located in a nature reserve. The fired ammunition runs the risk of polluting the groundwater. «(…)
Julia Weise demanded in court: “If there is going to be a conviction, then I would like to work off the fine in a social organization. Then at least fractions of the money will not flow into the military budget ”. In the judgment, the fine was reduced from 200 euros to 100 euros. (…)
For the occupation of the Altmark military training area in August 2019, 25 activists have received fines of between 200 and 500 euros in the past few months.
The Verdi regional district of Berlin-Brandenburg announced on Tuesday about the warning strike by 4,000 workers in Berlin:
On October 20, over 4,000 employees of the BSR, Vivantes and Charité, the pension insurance and numerous other federal institutions were on a warning strike in Berlin. For example, the garbage disposal and parts of the city cleaning department were on strike. The BSR recycling yards will remain closed all day. Several hundred strikers took part in decentralized rallies at Fehrbelliner Platz (pension insurance schemes, job centers, employment agencies), Alex (Charité and Vivantes) and a silent vigil in front of the Federal Ministry of Finance (employees of federal institutions). (…)
»The offer from the employers’ side that has been available since Friday has very disappointed many of our colleagues. I see that the bargaining parties are still very far apart in this collective bargaining round. One thing is clear: if there is no agreement in the negotiations, which will resume on Thursday in Potsdam, the Berlin workers will still be ready to strike! «Said Frank Wolf, Verdi district manager Berlin-Brandenburg. (…)
In the current collective bargaining round, Verdi is calling for salary increases of 4.8 percent, but at least 150 euros a month. In addition, the increase in the apprenticeship remuneration by 100 euros as well as regulations for taking on apprentices and adapting vacation leave to the level of the employees are required. The negotiations will continue on October 22nd and 23rd in Potsdam. (…)
Verdi flags are blowing in the wind on the Charité Mitte campus. The service union has again called for strikes at three Charité and seven Vivantes locations. From Monday morning to Tuesday evening, the hospital employees who are employed within the framework of the TVöD (collective agreement for the public service) should stop working. In the collective bargaining dispute between Verdi and the Association of Municipal Employers’ Associations (VKA), no agreement has yet been reached since the collective agreements negotiated in 2018 expired. An initial offer from the employer did not go down well with Verdi and the employees.
“We cannot accept that!” Said an employee during strike training on the Charité Mitte campus on Monday. Dana Lützkendorf, intensive care worker and strike leader on site, does not think much of the current offer. “The employers want to sell us that as a decent offer, but actually it is a bottomless cheek,” said the Verdi activist.
The 3.3 percent increase in wages over a three-year period would hardly compensate for inflation and the steady rise in the cost of living. “We have had a big problem with young talent for years, but no people want to start here if they are paid so badly,” says Lützkendorf. The fact that the VKA offer does not include any increase at all in the first six months also causes outrage among employees.
The strike leader also criticizes the behavior of employers during the collective bargaining dispute. “There is no emergency service arrangement during the strike,” she says. This was rejected by the Charité. This would put the workers under pressure. “The colleagues are told that they cannot strike without an emergency service agreement, although that is not true at all,” says Lützkendorf.
That had an impact on participation. “The willingness to strike was actually very high,” says the intensive care worker. You have gone through all stations in the past few weeks and talked to the employees. “Entire stations should remain closed,” says Lützkendorf. But now many employees are intimidated by the statements of the management. “You are pursuing a rigid strategy to keep your colleagues from going on strike.” Nevertheless, according to Lützkendorf, 80 to 100 hospital employees were on strike by Monday noon.
In response to an nd request, the Charité management announced that Verdi had not offered the Charité an emergency service agreement. “Even after repeated contact by the Charité, Verdi did not accept the offer to negotiate,” says press spokeswoman Manuela Zingl.
Lützkendorf says that as a caregiver, she doesn’t feel valued, either by the employer or by society. “There was nothing more than applause,” she says about the time of the first peak of the pandemic, when the nursing staff in the hospitals were still broadly thanked, who ensure that the patients are reliably cared for even in corona times . “The 450 euros that were given as a bonus are a joke. We need a long-term and sustainable improvement in pay and working conditions, «says the Verdi strike leader.
She is particularly annoyed that they have to go on strike during the pandemic. “I wouldn’t have to go on strike if there was a good offer that values my work,” she says. A strike is never nice, but always the last resort. “Society should be upset about the fact that politics and employers are forcing us to strike right now in this situation,” said the nurse.
Silvia Habekost, nursing staff and Verdi active at the Vivantes Clinic in Friedrichshain, sees it similarly, where she distributes leaflets to the employees on Monday. “Friday’s offer is underground. In the spring it was said that care had to be upgraded, «she says. This appreciation must also be reflected in higher wages.
Habekost is annoyed by the employer’s statement that a strike is irresponsible in the current situation. “Verdi has offered the employers’ association a short-term collective agreement so that we don’t end up in a situation like the one we have now. They refused, ”she says. It is outrageous to now accuse the employees of going on strike.
Verdi union secretary Michael Musall is active as a strike leader at the Charité Campus Virchow-Klinikum. The participation is only mediocre, he reports. “We had to give in to the emergency services.” It is expected that corona patients will have to be cared for, and they want to be prepared for this, according to the union secretary. “There are enough colleagues on the other wards so that the patients can be adequately cared for,” he assures. The employers rejected the emergency service agreement because they wanted to introduce a pandemic plan, explains Musall. “That would have meant that hardly anyone could have gone on strike. Of course we couldn’t let that happen. “
The Belarusian opposition politician Svetlana Tichanovskaya, who lives in Lithuania, has asked President Alexander Lukashenko to resign by October 25th. Otherwise “the people” will take to the streets with a “popular ultimatum”. From October 26th, streets would be blocked and all companies would be called to strike. The products of Belarusian state-owned companies will then also be boycotted, the politician said in an online message on Tuesday.
Tichanovskaya’s request to speak is evidently connected to the meeting between Lukashenko and some of the prisoners of the opposition last Saturday. One of the participants, ex-banker Wiktor Babariko, who was not a presidential candidate, had his lawyers explain that real dialogue requires that everyone involved is free and that the opposition has access to the media. In addition, a broader group of “civil society” must be involved in the talks than on Saturday.
It looks like Lukashenko’s calculation has paid off and the Belarusian opposition has split. Because even if Babariko rejects the dialogue under the given conditions – which is understandable – he does not rule it out in principle. Tichanovskaya, on the other hand, relied on confrontation with her “popular ultimatum”. However, it remains to be seen whether it has enough influence to really call a general strike in Belarus.
As early as August, the company protests were limited to a relatively small number of companies and fell asleep after Lukashenko threatened the strikers with firing. According to information from those around the opposition, representatives of seven companies took part in a video conference between Tichanovskaya and several leaders of those strikes on Wednesday.
It was noticeable that one of the country’s largest foreign exchange providers, the Belaruskali potash mining company from Soligorsk, was not there. In August, five of the company’s seven mines protested. A few days ago one of the strike leaders from August, Sergej Dylewski from the Minsk Tractor Plant, left Belarus with his family for Poland.
Tichanovskaya’s strategy of confrontation presumably reflects a certain degree of frustration at the lack of success of the protests against Lukashenko. Last weekend opposition supporters tried for the first time in several weeks to build barricades out of burning tires. The police cleared these roadblocks relatively quickly and arrested the organizers.
Western sympathizers of the Belarusian opposition are concerned about the demonstrators’ return to violence. The neoconservative US think tank Institute for the Study of War expressed fears that an escalation of violence could provide Moscow with an excuse for direct intervention in its western neighbor. The special police unit set up in Russia in August in the event of a threat to internal security in Belarus has already been disbanded.
In the meantime, it is becoming clear who is behind Tichanovskaya. On Tuesday she received the “John McCain Freedom Prize” from the “International Republican Institute,” the party foundation of the US Republicans. And in Kiev on Wednesday Ukrainian Nazis demonstrated on “Day of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army” (UPA) with the white, red and white flags of the Belarusian opposition.