Valery LEVANEUSKI - personal site  
October 27th, 1999. Posted in Author's articles

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About history of development trade unions of entrepreneurs and persons working on hiring

Belarus is the unique country. In the sense that it is the unique country where are created and have received a wide circulation trade unions (!!?) of entrepreneurs. Many our western and east partners do not understand. How such there can be a trade union of employers? The unions, associations of entrepreneurs, clubs – it is clear, but at what here trade unions of entrepreneurs?

The matter is that a by word the entrepreneur the legislation in Belarus has united also the large entrepreneur having 1000 people of wage labor and small dealers, having one or two working persons on hiring, or, in general engaged in the business alone. If large entrepreneurs contain lawyers in a condition, bookkeepers and other experts, are capable though somehow to protect from a state arbitrariness small entrepreneur, are deprived such possibility.

To understand the nature of trade unions of entrepreneurs and persons working on hiring it is necessary to give explanatory on some questions.

1) What is individual entrepreneur in republic Belarus?

Small individual entrepreneurs- it is approximately 100-130 thousand persons, plus of 250-350 thousand more the person which work for them on hiring. Small entrepreneurs are not protected in any way by the current legislation. The labor legislation on them does not extend. The basic employer for the small entrepreneur, in classical understanding of this word, is the state. The state registers entrepreneur (grants it the right to work), publishes rules on which the entrepreneur works. Actually, the individual entrepreneur is the hired worker at the state. Its unique difference from the worker at the enterprise it that he puts up own money in the business, answers under the obligations with the property, works more than 12 hours a day and contains the family for this money. They are hired workers at the entrepreneur, as a rule. Are either it’s near relations, or good acquaintances. It would be correct this category of people to name – shopkeepers, taxi drivers, handicraftsmen, etc.

Great bulk of individual entrepreneurs- is the former engineers, teachers, teachers, lawyers, officers of army and militia, doctors. Many cannot simply support the family for the low salary or pension and the forces in small-scale entrepreneurship sphere are compelled to try.

More than 60 % of individual entrepreneurs have the higher and average vocational education.

2) Why entrepreneur and persons working for them on hiring are compelled to unite in trade unions of entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs – is arising middle class in our country. An average class – is a basis of any civilized society. The present state is compelled to struggle with arising middle class, since an average class -is the opponent of any dictatorship. A principal cause of well-being of Europe and America – is a large quantity of people with an average prosperity. Dictatorship in these countries basically is impossible. Everything, including, and the authorities understand, that process of a secondary education of a class in Belarus (in the centre of Europe) the irreversible. But the given process can be slowed down

Individual entrepreneurs in Belarus have started to develop approximately in 1991. It has received the greatest development in 1994-95. If to the power A.Lukashenka entrepreneurship in our republic would develop today very strongly has not come and the economy of Belarus would be at level of Poland or even above. Beginning approximately since 1995, A.Lukashenka declared war to free entrepreneurship in Belarus. The principal cause of such behavior of A.Lukashenka consists that, having come to the power, it has set as the purpose to create own dictatorship. And dictatorship perverted – with communism and fascism elements. Understanding, that the arising middle class will be the opponent of any dictatorship, it has begun a complex of measures on middle class destruction.

As the minister of entrepreneurship and investments A.Sazonov «We you has told for a long time to me in private conversation would close (investment’s), but to put you there is no place».

The matter is that individual entrepreneurs and their families, without dependence from that, receive they the income or not, are deprived is actually right on any grants and social guarantees. It is forbidden to individual entrepreneurs to stand on labor exchange in work search, they do not receive even the beggarly unemployment benefit. Thanks to individual entrepreneurs the state manipulates figures of the unemployed in the country towards reduction.

The full interdiction of entrepreneurship can turn back social explosion, as individual entrepreneurs contain the families and many officials. The state has chosen other way on destruction of an average class – creation of rules (laws) on which it is possible to select property (the personal income) at entrepreneurs to formal and far-fetched signs. In the state the system of penalties, financial sanctions, criminal and administrative prosecution of entrepreneurs having what or the income are created. In the country where judicial, executive and the legislature belongs A.lukashenka – it is to make simply. Insults to entrepreneurs on TV by A.lukashenka – is norm for Belarus.

Entrepreneurs in Belarus, as a rule, pay taxes before the work beginning (the fixed tax). Despite it, them fine for concealment of the income which they did not receive. Examples are:

- The entrepreneur trades in the market in ball pens. For the right of trade it has paid all taxes to month in advance (from calculation, that it will have a goods turnover in 1000 minimum wages in a month). The thief has stolen one ball pen at the entrepreneur. Shortage on a workplace of this one handle is considered «income concealment» and the entrepreneur is exposed to the administrative penalty in five minimum wages. Second such “infringement” -is the criminal liability. Only lately it is raised more such 500 criminal cases.

- At the entrepreneur who is engaged in trading-purchasing activity goods turnover has made 10.000 US dollars a year. In the declaration on incomes it specifies, that expenses for goods purchase have made 8.000 dollars and the net profit according to 2.000 dollars Tax body does not recognize purchasing and other documents on purchase of the given goods and draws up the check Statement. In the check certificate specifies, that the net profit at the entrepreneur is = to the gross revenue (goods turnover). 8.000 dollars in this case are considered concealment of the income and the entrepreneur should pay the sums of penalties to 20.000 US dollars.

On account of maintenance of the claim at the entrepreneur all property which is the houses is selected. Disputes in courts for the entrepreneurs are doomed, as a rule, to a failure. Moreover, to the entrepreneur dared to argue with supervising bodies can add still heavy fines and financial sanctions?

- The goods are subject to confiscation by transportation or realizations at the entrepreneur if the checking will not like unprofitable or other documents on the goods, there is no inquiry on currency purchase if the goods are bought abroad (as is known in Belarus it is impossible to buy legally currency) or for other reasons.

All machinery of state is engaged in to think up rules on which it is possible to select the certain sums of money at the citizen, except taxes. And these requisitions make the sums of tens times exceeding taxes.

Conclusion is: the Trade union of entrepreneurs is necessary for protection of the economic and social rights of individual entrepreneur and persons working on hiring. The entrepreneur himself cannot protect itself from a state – arbitrariness because will be crushed by state machinery. The trade union has a chance to defend not only interests of one entrepreneurs, but also the whole group of entrepreneurs by mass protest actions, by offers on current legislation change, by creation of own legal service of free legal aid, and as publishing own trade-union editions. With the gangster state it is possible to struggle, only having strong structure.

One more problem: is extortion of bribes at individual entrepreneurs.

In the country well organized system of extortion of bribes is created. Each individual entrepreneur is compelled to pay bribes various checking to 20 times a year and more. The legislation allows punishing the entrepreneur to formal signs some times in day. The entrepreneur will work or not depends on the checking. Each inspector has a plan under penalties and financial sanctions. 100 % of entrepreneurs work with infringements of the rules established by the state (these rules obviously are not carry out). You will give a bribe – will not check. You will not give -you will see the penalty and prison. To enter the conflict with checking is dangerously. The person, who has declared bribery, cannot work more. He will be suffered by checks.

Conclusion is: With the given defect erected in a rank of a state policy, it is possible to struggle, only having created the organization of entrepreneurs – trade union. The trade union generalizes the facts of requisitions and bribes. He creates conditions in which the checking starts to be afraid of publicity of cases of extortion of bribes. On behalf of trade union it is possible to hand in corresponding statements, without instructions of concrete surnames of entrepreneurs from which extort bribes.

One bigger problem – is Rent of trading places.

To carry out, for example trade, the trading place is necessary. To trade out of specially taken away places it is forbidden. Trading places in the markets give various commercial structures formed by local authorities, departments and relatives of various officials. For meter of the trading area the entrepreneur is compelled to pay more than for rent of one-room apartment. Thus the entrepreneur has no rights and depends on will of the manager of the market, instead of from the law. The monopolies of the state and about the state structures in the given sphere allows to dictate any conditions to the individual entrepreneur. In case of disagreement – the entrepreneur is expelled from a trading place and remains out-of-pocket to existence.

Conclusion is: the trade union of entrepreneurs is necessary for protection of entrepreneurs against an arbitrariness of administration of the market.

The note: We, the Grodno trade union of entrepreneurs, tried to lease the earth for construction of own ware market. The city authorities have given up in earth granting under rent on market building.

Constantly varying current legislation in the field of entrepreneurship, great volume of legislative, standard and legal certificates (more than 5.000 typewritten sheets) to studying of the given legislation by the individual entrepreneur is impossible. Anybody in Belarus, even checking, do not know the legislation in the field of entrepreneurship in full. For training of individual entrepreneurs it is necessary to carry out legal training. But also here it is a lot of difficulties. The first big difficulty is absence of a premise for training carrying out. Local authorities have entered allowing system on carrying out of meetings and carrying out of seminars. And the permission should be received for 15 days prior to the beginning of seminar carrying out. As a rule, the authorities refuse in delivery of permissions to carrying out of meetings and seminars. The centers existing entrepreneurship – demand a huge payment for premise rent that does carrying out of seminars also impossible.

The capture in long-term rent of a premise of the big area also is problematic. As a rule, the authorities say that the areas for rent are not present. And for premise rent the city authorities demand on 6 dollars for square meter of the rented area. The bureaucratic red tape in premise reception in rent creates huge difficulties in the given question. To buy the premise for the means, to equip it – is difficult because of sharp shortage of money resources.

The legislation in sphere of individual entrepreneurship has the strongly pronounced specificity. It is impossible to extend positive experience in sphere of entrepreneurship of foreign countries to Belarus in the pure state.

As a rule, in the centers existing business-centers and other organizations created at executive committees, there are no experts in the field of individual entrepreneurship. Professors and lawyers-theorists are terribly far from a real enterprise life and cannot render real legal aid. It is the second big problem.

Trade unions of entrepreneurs try to solve this problem through bulletins “Entrepreneur” where legal counsels are given, through consultations of lawyers-experts with which the trade union co-operates.

One more essential obstacle in entrepreneurship- is development is registration system for trade unions and public organizations. The system means presence of the legal address (without presence of the legal address in registration it will be given up). To have the legal address on a residence it is forbidden by the law. The overwhelming majority of uninhabited fund (i.e. a place where it is possible to receive the legal address) belongs to the state. And the state refuses to give premises for progressively adjusted public organizations and trade unions. So, in of Grodno to all primary organizations of free trade union refuse in granting of a premise for the legal address. The same to whom have given premises (from objectionable), by increase of a rent and other ways force to leave premises.

One of directions on split of enterprise movement and destruction of an average class -is this creation of the ministries and departments, committees, prop residential public organizations and trade unions which «will inflate cheeks» and to pretend, that they protect entrepreneurs.

The ministry of entrepreneurship and investments.

It is for two years.

Has huge staff of workers, occupies the big areas under offices on all republic, swings inconceivable money resources from the thin budget of the country. Two years rends the air. Spends congresses, employees of the ministry and the persons approached to it, go in foreign business trips by crowds. Result of work – is “zero”. Any efficient offer or the statutory act is. Only rends the air.

Uncountable quantity of committees and the “public” organizations at the Government and the President is one bigger army of parasites. This army for introduction of the world community and the population of Belarus in error is created. They drive about on foreign countries and tell, how well is to entrepreneurs in Belarus. Those come, putting up money and … damn that day when them have advised to arrive to this republic. Fraud at republican and international level. But fools in the world remains are very little. To invest in the country with the crazy, daily varying legislation in the field of entrepreneurship and the taxation wants nobody. Even own potential investors prefer to invest the capitals out of territory of Belarus.

One more direction is mastered by given “public men”. Assignment financial (international and internal) the streams intended for development of public and enterprise movement. Yesterday’s bureaucratic establishment and their adherents, who has struggled all life with entrepreneurship sprouts, declared themselves the most important defenders of entrepreneurs and were built in turn behind budgetary and off-budget money.

Why entrepreneurs cannot unite in the enterprise unions and business – clubs for protection of the rights and legitimate interests?

Enterprise public organizations (the unions, clubs etc.) cannot effectively protect themselves and the members. Today there is a question not about entrepreneurship development, and about its survival.

For protection of the rights and legitimate interests of entrepreneurs it is necessary to enter the conflict to government officials. After the first conflict the given public organization will have a financial check, mad sanctions and the given organization are exposed will be closed. Tax or other check –is a favorite way of the power to finish with any objectionable organization.

Another matter is trade unions. First, trade unions have the right to strike and are protected for the present by the internal and international legislation.

Article 23 of the law of Belarus «About professional unions” forbids the state control over trade union financial assets, except for incomes of commercial activity. Hence, the probability of pressure of the state by “checks” on trade unions is limited.

Secondly, the trade union more approaches individual entrepreneurs by definition, as entrepreneurs unite on occupation characteristics – trade union of dealers (trading on the market), trade union of taxi drivers, etc.

The existing enterprise unions are, as a rule, nearby the state structures which are not concerning real entrepreneurship. The legislation in the field of entrepreneurship is developed by people far from the business world.

Trade unions of entrepreneurs have started to be created actively in 1996 i.e. when the state has started to destroy entrepreneurs as a class.

Because in Belarus there is a big problem with an official recognition of not state enterprise structures and trade unions (registration), entrepreneurs united in trade unions under already existing trade unions. The preference is given by us to Free Trade union Belarus. It is the compelled and necessary measure as it simplifies procedure of reception of the press and the legal status.

Really in Belarus small entrepreneurship operates strike committee of entrepreneurs. This structure is not registered and exists already more than two years. In strike committee various trade unions of entrepreneurs and persons working on hiring, entrepreneurs, and initiative groups of entrepreneurs enter. This is real structure which officially does not recognize the power. Strike committee has organized more than 5 republican strikes of entrepreneurs, including with the termination of payment of taxes and other payments in the budget as a sign of the protest against an arbitrariness of the authorities. With participation of Strike Committee it is organized a number of mass meetings in protection of the economic rights of citizens.

Today Strike Committee works over strengthening of the structures in areas and the regional centers. There is a work on creation of republican structure of entrepreneurs. We are ready to that the authorities will give up registering it. For us it is already unimportant. All decisions of Strike Committee are carried out on all republics, without dependence from its registration.

Here is such history.

We, middle class, were, is and we will be, without dependence from that us will recognize present pack of swindlers, seized power or not. With these rascals and populists to us is not on a way. And it is already a policy. We if have decided to overcome swindlers, we will overcome them. And it is very fast. To fools not a place in a management of Belarus.

Valery Levaneuski

The note: any reductions and uses of separate endurances of the given review are supposed. The reference to the author is obligatory.

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Note: Translated by means of machine translation. The original text in Russian is on a site or