Declaration on the constitutional, civil and labour rights of employees, members of the SPM
on the constitutional, civil and labour rights of employees, members of the SPM.
The Free Metalworkers’ Union (SPM) is a republican organization uniting labour hire employees and acting in accordance with the Constitution, legislation of the Republic of Belarus, as well as the Conventions and Recommendations of the International Labour Organization ratified by the Government of the Republic of Belarus. The Free Metalworkers’ Union is also an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union.
At the same time, the administration, at the suggestion of the special services, has practically organized a total system of persecution against SPM members at enterprises, which includes a requirement for an employee to withdraw from the SPM membership under the threat of dismissal. In recent months, the crackdown on members of the Free Metalworkers’ Union has intensified significantly. SPM activists were arrested, fired, and their homes were searched. In fear of further persecution, some members of the trade union had to leave the country.
Similar actions took place at the motor and automobile plants in Minsk, at BELAZ in Zhodino, at dozens of enterprises and organizations in Mogilev and other regions. In Mogilev, the situation has been brought to the point of absurdity; the authorities demand employees to provide a certificate stating that they are not members of the SPM.
The Free Metalworkers’ Union is fighting for preservation of jobs, for rise in wages, normal working conditions and respect for the worker in production. By virtue of its position, SPM was not the initiator and was not interested in sanctions against industrial enterprises, which could worsen the situation of workers, reduce earnings, and lead to job loss.
However, groundless actions and repressions against trade union members form a negative attitude towards the current policy and cannot contribute to social tranquility in the country, and also cause a critical attitude of the ILO and the international trade union and labour movement to what is happening in labour relations in Belarus. Repressions, dismissals of highly qualified workers, a “ban on the profession” for political and ideological attitudes undoubtedly lead to a decrease in the industrial potential and competitiveness of domestic production; we are concerned about it.
In the opinion of SPM members, in order to find a way out of this situation, it is necessary to make adjustments to the current social and industrial policy. Fear cannot be the motivation for creative and productive work. It is extremely ineffective to turn free workers into slaves shaking with fear.
We propose a list of measures and actions that will undoubtedly improve the situation in production and in the future will lead to a decrease in sanctions pressure.
Our proposals do not require heavy expenses for their implementation.
- To start the implementation of the recommendations of the ILO Commission of Inquiry in 2004, to actually follow the norms of ILO Conventions No. 87 and 98, to end the persecution of SPM members, to create conditions for the registration of primary SPM organizations at enterprises. Not to interfere with collective bargaining with the employer held at enterprises jointly with Belprofmash organizations, as well as the conclusion of the Tariff Agreement (Recommendation No. 2 of the Commission).
- As recommended by the ILO, “to refrain from arrest, detention or use of violence, intimidation or harassment, including prosecution of union leaders and members for their legitimate trade union activities, and to promptly investigate alleged incidents of violence and intimidation”.
- To release from custody and stop criminal prosecution of the chairman of the SPM primary organization, member of the SPM Council Artem Zhernak, and other trade union activists.
These actions on the part of the authorities could serve as the beginning of constructive interaction between organizations of independent trade unions and government agencies under the auspices of the ILO and structures of international trade unions to develop measures to reduce sanctions pressure on enterprises and, accordingly, improve the situation of workers.
Adopted at the XII Congress of the SPM
December 18, 2021