The transformation of the labour market will inevitably bring new forms of discrimination in labour relations as well as reduce the role and influence of trade unions in protecting workers’ rights. Aleh Hrableuski, an analyst of the Agency of Policy Expertise, asks how the arrival of Russian capital, currently constituting 40 % of all foreign capital in Belarus, will impact labour relations.
Companies with foreign capital prefer the forms of employment that have temporary nature. “Precarious employment” includes temporary contracts, fixed-term employment agreements (contracts), turnkey contracts (contractor's agreement) and contracts on paid services.
Temporary contracts suppose employment for up two months or up to four months in the case of the substitution of an employee in absence.
Common discriminatory aspects of such employment are work on state holidays and days off, without the consent of employees. Meanwhile the wage on these days is ordinary. The major issue with contracts is the inability to terminate the contract at the request of the employee. Turnkey contracts are the agreements regulated by civil law. That is, being outside labour relations, employees are deprived of such benefits and guarantees, including paid annual leave, minimal wage, requirements for the schedule of working hours and severance benefits. Contingent labour, managed by staffing agencies that “sell” workforce as goods, is the most discriminatory form of labour relations. This employment is outside collective agreements and thus, labour law making contingent workers a socially vulnerable category. The wage of contingent workers could be as much as 30% lower than the wage of permanent workers.
The survey of employees of Russian companies in Belarus conducted in December 2011 showed that temporary employment is a widespread practice. While only 6-8% of the workforce belongs to temporary employees in Western Europe, almost 100% of employees in Belarus are forced to work under precarious conditions. The arrival of foreign companies threatens to promote discriminatory temporary employment and not the Western standards of labour relations.