What happens when you believe capitalists’ promises
On January 30, a group of shift workers went on a hunger strike in front of the office of ‘Ufaneftemash‘ enterprise (Bashkiria, Russia). About a dozen workers went to the office with posters, tents and lit a fire. The reason for such desperate actions is many months of non-payment of wages; because of that, many workers who were employed by ‘Ufaneftemash’ for projects in the Far East region could not even travel home for a long time. From the very beginning of this conflict, ‘ROT Front’ has interacted with shift workers and provided information support.
The whole story went public at the end of November 2019. Ramil Azikhanov, one of the shift workers, published a video message where he described that ‘Ufaneftemash’ has not paid wages for months and even refused to provide food to the workers who did not show enough loyalty. After the scandal eruption, the employer started paying off the October debt. According to the workers themselves, partial payments were accompanied by threats against those who tried to “rebel”.
After all, it was Azikhanov who decided to fight to the end. He managed to get the November payment and left the company. The other workers believed the promises. After a while, they only received 20,000 rubles and a return ticket to Ufa. In response, they organized the hunger strike. The employer refuses to pay debts and says to the workers that he does not know them.
The press reports that the Investigative Committee of Bashkiria instituted criminal proceedings on the non-payment of wages. Perhaps this, as well as the public outcry around the hunger strike, will still make ‘Ufaneftemash’ pay the workers. However, this whole story could have ended much better and much earlier if the workers had a little more dignity. A brave and organized struggle for one’s rights, not a “rebellion on one’s knees” is the key to success. In a labor conflict, the winner is not the one who hopes for pity and practices self-torture, but the one who does dramatic damage to the enemy.
Will the ‘Ufaneftemash’ shift workers learn the lesson? Time will tell.