Workers from Moldova’s bankrupt Glodeni-Zahar sugar company are now blocking rail and truck transport in a desperate effort to defend their meager patrimony. They have not been paid their wages since June 2009 and will receive no benefits after years of service if they do not succeed.
The company went into bankruptcy proceedings in November 2009, but that didn’t stop the bankruptcy administrator from entering into a deal to sell warehoused sugar with an estimated value of USD 2.8 million to a shadowy entity called Viktomax Sistem. Despite a December 16 court order blocking any sale of the sugar until back wages were paid, repeated efforts have been made to loot the warehouse – and criminal charges were filed against 5 union leaders for establishing a 24-hour vigil at the warehouse.
At 2:00 AM on January 17 – the day after union members travelled to the capital Chisinau to demonstrate for government action – unknown men with concealed faces broke through the exhausted workers’ vigil and filled 12 rail cars with the sugar. The train escaped, but the workers succeeded in blocking three loaded trucks from making off with the sugar, and are now blocking the tracks at Glodeni’s rail station to prevent any further movement.
The sugar is the only hope they have of seeing their unpaid wages and benefits. Despite government mumblings that their hands are tied, the authorities can and must act to stop this brazen theft of workers’ lost livelihoods. The government must enforce the court order to make sure that not a spoonful of sugar is sold before the workers are paid. You can support their struggle by clicking here to send a message to the Moldovan authorities demanding the workers are paid their wages and benefits and all criminal charges are lifted immediately and unconditionally.