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Belarusian Official Wants Quarry Director's Resignation Amid Worker Protests

MIKASHEVICHY, Belarus -- A Belarusian official has called for the head of the country's largest granite quarry to resign amid employee protests, according to a meeting participant quoted by RFE/RL's Belarus Service.

The source said the chairman of a Brest regional executive committee, Kanstantsin Sumar, said Granit director Stepan Turovets "is old and wants to retire" and should therefore leave his post. Turovets has been the director of Granit, in Mikashevichy, since 2008.

The call for Turovets' resignation comes after the resignation of Nikolai Yakubovich, the chairman of the quarry's official trade union federation, and the firing of Granit's labor and wages department head, Natalia Malevich.

Yakubovich's resignation will reportedly be decided upon at a trade union conference in February.

In late December, some 600 workers at Granit left the official trade union and formed their own one to protest against low salaries and poor working conditions at the quarry.

But the newly formed trade union was not given official registration by the authorities.

Nikolai Zimin, chairman of the Belarusian independent trade union of miners, told RFE/RL on January 5 that all documents for the registration of the Granit trade union were ready.

But he said Granit's management refuses to allocate a premises for the new trade union.

According to Zimin, Granit's management said the owner of the company's property is the Belarusian Architecture and Construction Ministry and that it must approve the registration and location of the new trade union.

He added that getting permission from the ministry could take some time.

Earlier, Granit workers told RFE/RL that their discontent with the work conditions at the quarry had been building for many years.

A Granit truck driver who would only give his name as Viktor told RFE/RL on January 2 that management had pressured protesting workers. He said they are invited to "preventive" conversations and their relatives are threatened.

He added that his mother, who has worked for Granit for 20 years, was recently moved from her post to another office without any official reason.

State-controlled Granit is Belarus's largest producer of crushed rocks and sand, and employs some 3,000 people. It is located in the western Brest region.

Read more in Belarusian here and here