Thousands of market vendors on strike against new certification rules

Small business owners with sole entrepreneur status in Minsk, Mahilyow, Homyel, Brest, Polatsk, Kastsyukovichy, and Baranavichy are known to have gone on strike at the suggestion of a small business association called Perspektyva...

 

Thousands of market vendors across Belarus are staging a one-day strike against the introduction of new certification rules for imported clothing and footwear within the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

Ждановичи

Small business owners with sole entrepreneur status in Minsk, Mahilyow, Homyel, Brest, Polatsk, Kastsyukovichy, and Baranavichy are known to have gone on strike at the suggestion of a small business association called Perspektyva.

As Perspektyva’s leader, Anatol Shumchanka, told BelaPAN, the Parking shopping center in downtown Minsk and stalls selling goods other than food at the Zhdanovichy market just outside the capital city were closed on Thursday morning.

About 400 protesters at the Zhdanovichy market held a rally in the morning and discussed their woes with the administration of the market and Natallya Khmyalnitskaya, an official of the Tsentralny district administration. Participants welcomed Ms. Khmyalnitskaya’s proposal to hold a general meeting of on Friday. She promised that representatives of governmental agencies would explain to market vendors how to work starting July 1.

Approved by the Commission of the Customs Union and scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2013, the rules prohibit the sale of clothes and footwear without a special label confirming their compliance with the Customs Union`s safety standards. The sellers will be required to submit samples of their goods to laboratories for testing and pay the certification costs.

Small business owners across Belarus have condemned the rules as unfair, stressed that manufacturers and not sellers should pay the costs and expressed readiness to shut up shop, stop paying taxes and stage large-scale protests starting July 1 if their demands are ignored.

The Belarusian government announced last week that it would adopt a directive delaying the introduction of the rules by one year.
Speaking on the sidelines of a business forum in Minsk on Monday, Andrei Polozkov, of the Eurasian Economic Commission's Department for Technical Regulation and Accreditation, warned that the directive would be illegal. If Minsk wants the introduction of the rules to be postponed, it should write to the Eurasian Economic Commission, detailing its arguments, he said. // BelaPAN