BNP leader calls on IndustriALL to make workers’ rights the core issue of its activities

    The Belarusian Independent Trade Union takes part in the Third Congress of IndustriALL Global Union. Today is the second day of the Congress being held in online mode.

    The Independent Trade Union is represented by its chairman, Maksim Poznyakov, who in his speech described the situation concerning human rights and trade unions in our country.

    The chairman of the Independent Trade Union noted that today all trade unions, first and foremost, need to seek strict adherence by the governments to the fundamental ILO Conventions 87 and 98 dealing with the rights of workers to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike, non-interference in the activities of trade unions. And this is applicable not only to Belarus:

    Now, we see an active attack on our rights by capital and governments around the world. In Ukraine, they continue their attempts to adopt a new labour code aimed at worsening the rights of workers. In Kyrgyzstan, the struggle continues against the new law on trade union aimed at depriving trade unions of independence and taking them under full control. Governments tend to recognize the supremacy of national laws over international ones, which is also very dangerous because this makes it possible to significantly limit the rights stipulated by the ILO Conventions.

    Speech by Maksim Poznyakov

    He also touched upon the situation in Belarus which is currently a “red spot” on the map of Europe for non-observance of the rights of workers and trade unions:

    Thousands of people have lost their jobs for openly expressing their civil consciousness and attitudes in relation to the results of the presidential elections as well as the actions of the security forces which following afterwards. Hundreds of active participants in the workers’ protest, in addition to dismissals, were sentenced to heavy fines, administrative arrest and even imprisonment in criminal cases. For example, a spontaneous meeting of workers on the territory of the Belarusian Metal Works, which led to the shutdown of the smelting furnaces for several hours, and damage in the amount of 350 Euros, resulted into imprisonment of three of our fellow workers: Evgeniy Govor, Aleksandr Bobrov and Igor Povarov got 2.5 – 3 years in prison.

    Along with the ban and liquidation of independent media, human rights organizations, political parties, charitable, cultural, sports, educational, environmental and other non-governmental organizations, attempts are being made to put pressure on independent trade unions.

    Public prosecution bodies issue official warnings and check the activities of trade union organizations with the aim of closing them down, they demand disclosure of the names of trade union members. A real hunt for members of independent trade unions takes place at the enterprises: round-the-clock checks of the compliance with internal rules, finding faults with workers, punishment at the slightest pretext, and, as a consequence, termination of labour relations by applying the infamous system of short-term employment contracts enshrined in the Labour Code. This is just a small drop in the ocean of abuse of rights of workers and independent trade unions in Belarus.

    At the end of his speech, he called on the Congress participants to make the promotion of workers’ rights the core issue of the activities of the Global Union:

    We just need, together with other global unions, with the support of the ILO, to find new, effective mechanisms in order to ensure the compliance with fundamental conventions which must be based on global working solidarity.