Strikes in South Ossetia: drivers and hospital staff haven't received salaries for several months
Strikes in South Ossetia
In South Ossetia, employees of two enterprises have simultaneously gone on strike. These include public transport drivers who have not received their salaries for several months, and workers in the catering department of the Republican Hospital, who are demanding the protection of their labor rights.
Reports of these protests have been circulating on South Ossetian Telegram channels. However, government-affiliated media has remained silent on the matter, and neither the president nor any other government representative has addressed the striking workers.
On one of the Telegram channels, public transport drivers are asserting that the President of South Ossetia, Alan Gagloev, had pledged a salary increase before the elections. However, instead of this, they have not received any payment for several months, contrary to his assurances.
“We are not only enduring hardship, but so are our families and the citizens who are left with no choice but to walk. The managerial personnel and all the officials drive expensive foreign vehicles, owning both personal and official cars. Regrettably, the authorities remain indifferent to the predicaments of ordinary citizens. New public transportation isn’t being acquired, and the existing fleet isn’t being repaired,” express the protestors in their state of outrage.
As for the employees in the hospital’s catering department, the situation is even more strained. Workers from the laundry and accounting departments have also joined the protest. Their discontent stems from deteriorating working conditions and meager salaries ranging from 7,000 to 8,000 rubles [$71-81], devoid of any bonuses.
On the afternoon of August 11, the strikers were notified that instead of the president, his assistant, Nikolai Gagloev, would meet with them. Nonetheless, he too failed to make an appearance.
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The authors of the pro-presidential Telegram channel, who endorsed Alan Gagloev’s candidacy in the presidential elections, have put forth a theory suggesting that the “power behind the throne” – Alan Dzhioev, the head of the presidential administration, bears responsibility for fueling the growing anti-government sentiments among the labor collectives:
“It’s understandable that people are frustrated; they are receiving meager salaries. The matter of salary hikes has been raised repeatedly, yet no funds have materialized. The ongoing protest is being orchestrated by Jioev and Plieva [minister of health – JAMnews], who have informed the staff that the leadership of the republic is declining salary increases.
Plieva is attempting to deflect accountability for the salary situation, shifting the blame onto the president. Conversely, Dzhioev has been engaging in discreet negotiations with other stakeholders for a considerable time, potentially undermining Gagloev’s position.”
Cancellation of payments
Sources informed JAMnews that the cause behind the ongoing protests lies in the actions of the newly established authorities, who have annulled previously existing allowances, consequently leaving diligent workers with meager salaries. The average income for catering staff and their colleagues stands at approximately 12,000 rubles [$122].
In stark contrast, part-time doctors who are registered across various positions amass a combined total of 100,000 to 150,000 rubles [over $1,000 to $1,500] per month.
This stark inequality threatens to ignite social tensions, especially considering Alan Gagloev and his team’s inability to augment the budget.
“It’s highly likely that a multitude of payments may cease by the end of September,” disclosed our insider from the ministry of health.
As per the informant, South Ossetian healthcare is currently grappling with an unprecedented crisis; all surgical practitioners have resigned. Patients afflicted with appendicitis and cholecystitis are being redirected to Vladikavkaz.
“The root cause can be traced back to the actions of the minister of health, Agunda Plieva. She has fostered unbearable working conditions, and heaven forbid anyone with a grave ailment from being admitted to the republic’s hospital.
Surgeons have been stripped of their compensation for on-call duties. The authorities have deemed it fit for them to work without any additional allowances. A similar approach has been extended to catering, laundry, and accounting staff.”
In December 2022, following intense deliberations, the South Ossetian Parliament reached a consensus on the primary parameters of the 2023 budget. Revenues were determined at 8.78 billion rubles [approximately $89 million], while expenditures amounted to 8.86 billion rubles [over $90 million].
Consequently, the budget for 2023 exhibited a deficit of roughly 80 million rubles [approximately $815,000].
The cornerstone of South Ossetia’s revenue structure is derived from financial aid provided by Russia. For the year 2023, this assistance was anticipated to total more than 7.2 billion rubles [over $73 million], with a significant portion—5.8 billion rubles [exceeding $59 million]—pledged by President Gagloev and his team for directing towards the socio-economic advancement of South Ossetia.
Prioritized allocations encompassed wages, social security provisions, utility expenses, procurement of medications, dressings, and other medical supplies, as well as investments in social welfare and education.
Anticipated self-generated revenues—comprising taxes and non-tax sources—were forecasted to reach nearly 1.7 billion rubles [over $72 million]. However, the administration encountered difficulties in realizing the complete collection of tax earnings.
In June, the government introduced modifications to the draft legislation governing the 2023 state budget. According to Deputy Finance Minister Marina Tibilova, “the revisions pertain to reallocating funds from the Investment Program to provide financial support for socio-economic development, amounting to 50 million rubles [over $509 thousand], to address the expenses associated with settling a portion of the electricity debt incurred by the republic.”
Tibilova advocated for allocating resources to co-finance the gradual wage increase for specific law enforcement agencies within the republic.
Funding for election campaign
Amidst the deepening social and economic crisis, associates of Alan Gagloev have initiated an unofficial campaign in anticipation of the parliamentary elections slated for June 2024.
The ruling Nykhas party has commenced the distribution of gas leak detectors among Tskhinvali’s residents, an endeavor carried out with the unwavering support of the presidential administration. Overseeing this promotional endeavor is Andrey Ottaev, the custodian of youth policies within the presidential administration.
The “Nykhasovtsy” faction has committed to disbursing 200 such sensors, asserting that this initiative will extend into the future. Ottaev stated that “all requisite equipment was procured through the resources of the Nykhas party.”
He also indicated that alongside distributing the sensors, they intend to install signage at bus stops, furnishing information about routes and transportation schedules.
However, the origins of funding for the pro-presidential party remain undisclosed by Ottaev. Moreover, the president himself has yet to meet with his former constituents—drivers, nurses, cooks—to whom he pledged considerable benefits.
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