Institute of Contemporary Knowledge Instructors Made Redundant Demand Compensation
Instructors of the branch of the Institute of Contemporary Knowledge in Hrodna, which was liquidated this year, sue in the Pershamaiski Borough Court for compensation payments for their dismissal. They demand that the employment contract termination be acknowledged as invalid. The Institute of Contemporary Knowledge was founded in 1990 and it was the first non-budget higher educational establishment that provided humanitarian training.
The Institute of Contemporary Knowledge had three branches based in Hrodna, Vitsebsk and Brest. This year at the end of the academic year the instructors were told that their employment contracts had been terminated and because the branches were liquidated, all of them were made redundant. Only in Hrodna 73 instructors and lab assistants lost jobs. 30 took the matter to court, demanding their dismissal be recognized as illegal. The instructors are indignant that no one cared to warn them beforehand. Later they found out that the institute rector agreed to the recommendations of the Ministry of Education to liquidate the institute branches.
Hrodna has three higher educational establishments: medical school, an agrarian and a state university. Because the instructors are specialized in humanities they may only find a job at a university. But not all of 73 people. The people are looking for jobs. Few were able to find part-time jobs. An instructor in the history of Belarus, cultural studies and political science, PhD, Natalia Slizh believes that she, being the author of many serious scholarly works, a participant to many scientific conferences and an instructor with experience, should not work as a teacher in a secondary school because this would lower her professional level.
Larysa Shapavalava taught legal subjects. She told Radio Liberty that the employer, the Institute of Contemporary Knowledge administration, flagrantly violated the rights of the instructors because it initiated the termination of employment contracts without advising the people of the intended dismissal, and in fact threw the people into the street without material compensation.
On 20 October one of the instructors already denied compensation to one of the instructors. The suits of another three people started to be dealt with, no decision, however, has been taken so far. Earlier the instructors applied to the Administration of Aliaxandr Lukashenka. They said the response surprised them. The answer said that the level of the instructors' competence and of the students' knowledge does not meet the nation-wide standards. However, before liquidation all of the branches passed attestation to be accredited for the next year.
After the first court session, the instructors started to lose faith in the positive outcome. One of them, Iryna Shutava, said: "We just saw a defendant in our proceedings leave the court building and get into a car. In a couple of minutes the procurator for our court hearings left the building and got into the defendant's car. And they left together. I believe this expressly shows the proceedings could not be objective.
Around 600 students studied in the Hrodna branch of the Institute of Contemporary Knowledge. Just as many in Vitsebsk and Brest. The students transferred to other universities. Their ex-instructors found themselves in a much worse situation. Only 30 instructors from Hrodna went to court. The court office says that they started to receive claims from the others. Most probably, after the courts passes rulings in the first cases, the others would decide whether it is worth trying to restore justice in court.