Belaruskali begins to work 3-day week
8:30, — society
The country's biggest enterprise will have problems at least until February.
The economic conflict with Uralkali and a criminal case against Uralkali's top managers opened by the Belarusian authorities had a negative impact on the financial state of Salihorsk-based Belaruskali, Radio Svaboda reports.
Inability to keep prices in the international market outside the cartel led to a slump in foreign currency earnings that resulted in reducing salaries at the enterprise and problems with social projects financing. Sporting clubs sponsored by the company threaten with boycotting games.
Belaruskali began to work at minimum capacity and works at two out of four mines were suspended in late August after the break-up with Uralkali and a slump in fertilisers prices. The decline in production affected wages. According to local resident Larysa Nasanovich, Belaruskali's personnel of some thousands people receive 2/3 of salary. A short working week (three or four days a week) was introduced until a special order. The measure affects miners, surface employees and subcontractors performing equipment maintenance. The uncertain situation is expected to last until February 2014, when new contracts on fertilisers supplies to foreign countries are due to be signed.
“Underground mining brigades that mine potash used to earn from 18 to 21 million rubles in normal times. It's more than 2,000 dollars. Sometimes it was even more. Wages dropped after the well-known events: people began to complain in summer that wages decreased to 12 million rubles. Either export bonuses or other bonuses disappeared. Working 2/3 time is another blow. It's not only miners that were affected. Belaruskali has many surface production services, the so called processing plants. Workers with the rather high labour grade V didn't receive much – 5 or 6 million rubles depending on their skills. But they had bonuses: healthcare allowance and other bonuses that give good wages. People lived well,” she said.
Salihorsk used to be an attractive town both for miners and sportsmen in the recent past. Belarusian and foreign players wanted to play in the local football and hockey clubs both called Shakhtyor. As the general sponsor, Belaruskali gave a part of its revenues to the football and hockey clubs. But the company cannot support players for the last few months due to lack of money. Players of the football club, which is ranked second in the national championship, complain about reduced bonuses and delays in payment. A question of selling the team's best players to pay the debts was even raised. Hockey players decided to protest. “I don't know how to enter the locker room and what to tell the guys. I am simply tired. I want to cry sometimes, because I am unable to change the situation. Players have practice sessions and play, but they don't think about hockey. They have just one thought – how to feed their families,” the chief coach of the hockey club said yesterday.
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