Yara has been facing a dilemma connected to their activities in Belarus for a considerable period of time. After the elections in 2020, respect for human rights has deteriorated, protests have been met with violence, mass arrests and murder. Demands have been made for Norwegian company Yara to stop purchases of potash from government owned Belaruskali. At the same time, Yara has retained a focus on workers’ rights and cooperated closely with independent trade unions to improve security and rights for the workers.
– We have maintained continuous contact with Yara and advised them on the human rights situation. Yara is one among few large companies to engage in the human rights situation in the country and who have criticised the regime. Their dialogue with trade unions and Belarusian opposition has been important, and continues to be important, Hønneland says.
– The Belarusian independent trade union (BNP) wanted Yara to stay. The reason was that they valued the support from Yara, who has raised the situation for workers and loss of bonuses with the company’s leadership. They have won some important victories. The workers are worried about what will happen if Yara leaves Belarus. We are concerned about local workers and are asking Yara to look after their interest when starting the withdrawal process.
– Lukashenko’s time is coming to a close, and we are looking forward to a new, democratic regime to build a new and better Belarus. They will need investments from democratic countries and the presence of companies like Yara, who respect human rights, Geir Hønneland concludes.