In late June, the administration of Polatsk Historical and Cultural Conservation Area Museum refused to renew the labour contract with the MFF activist Voĺha Damaskina. She informed the management about her desire to run for parliament and thinks that her dismissal was politically motivated.
“I was hoping that my contract would be renewed. My colleagues asked me whether I really wouldn’t fight for my right to work. And they were sorry that they would have to part with me. I addressed the chairman of the primary trade union organisation Jaŭhien Hryb, so that they defended my interests before the employer,” told Damaskina to Pyx.by.
According to her, she has been the member of the Belarusian Trade Union’s Cultural Workers Trade Union since the beginning of her work. The application to the chairman of the primary trade union organisation included the proposal for him “to file an appeal for the protection of my labour rights to employer Tamara Džumantajeva” and the rationale of extending my contract for another three years. “The appeal draft was made by me together with Polatsk human rights activists,” said Damaskina.
Trade Union Committee chairman wasn’t able to take a decision on his own and called a meeting of Trade Union Committee on July 21. “As expected, Trade Union Committee ‘abstained’ from taking a decision on the appeal to the employer,” said the MFF activist, and added: “Trade Union Committee is people, in the first place. When people are cowardly, so is the trade union committee. Trade union committees are bold in those organisations where people are bold.”
She says that, by her example, she wanted “to make the trade union understand that the primary functions of this organisation do not include the arrangement of the New Year’s corporate parties or buying gifts on public holidays but include the protection of professional, labour, social, and economic rights and lawful interests of trade union members.”
“If people defend their interests, the situation could change not only in some small team, but across the country, as well. It’s a pity I have to show this by my own example,” said the MFF member.
Damaskina now plans to appeal to the Vitsiebsk Region Cultural Workers Trade Union. “I understand that all of this is meaningless, but I have the right which I want to use,” she pointed out.
“Let the trade unions really work for once. They must know that the protection of trade union members, including in court, is the most important function of trade unions, not the distribution of what does not belong to them. It is better to act and possibly make a mistake than not to act and then be sorry about what you didn’t do. I really don’t want to bring this case before a court,” concluded Damaskina.