12th SPM Congress: We have only one way – fighting for workers’ rights

    On December 18, Minsk hosted the Twelfth Congress of the Free Metalworkers’ Union (SPM). Delegates came from all over Belarus to discuss trade union strategy and elect a new leadership. The work of the trade union over the past three years has been recognized as satisfactory.

    While opening the event, SPM Chairman Aleksandr Bukhvostov noted that the congress was being held in difficult times for workers and independent trade unions.

    All the activities of our trade union are aimed at opposing the anti-social and anti-labour component in the policy pursued by the ruling regime.

    Aleksandr Bukhvostov read out the report of the Trade Union Council on the work done in 2018 – 2021. The main achievements of our trade union over the years include the creation of a legal service of the trade union, labour protection inspections, strengthening and development of an information group, conducting lectures and seminars of the educational program and, of course, increasing the number of the trade union.

    In addition, the elections of the chairman were held at the congress. Aleksandr Ivanovich Bukhvostov was unanimously re-elected to this important post. Following the election of the chairman, the Control and Auditing Commission of the trade union was formed.

    In the course of further discussion, the “Declaration on the constitutional, civil and labour rights of employees, SPM members” was adopted, addressed to the current government and employers, as well as a number of other decisions, including some amendments to the Charter of the trade union.

    The delegates to the congress approved the new composition of the Trade Union Council. It includes 19 members.

    – Among the positive changes, it is worth noting the increase in the number of young people and women in the composition of the Council, as well as among the delegates of the last congress, said Aleksandr Bukhvostov.

    The trade union program for 2021 – 2024 was adopted at the meeting. This is a strategic document that includes general goals and objectives for the current period as well as individual areas of activity and ways of their development.

    Generally speaking, our strategy can be summed up in one word – opposition. It was defined back in the early 90s when the ASM trade union (Belarusian Trade Union of Automobile and Agricultural Engineering Workers) and our association were created. Any authority, political force and bourgeois formation want to have trade unions in their backyard, as servants, to carry out assignments, and so on.

    The Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FPB) is exactly in the backyard of the authorities. But neither the SPM, nor the BKDP agrees to serve at someone’s backyard. It is important to be independent, to remain direct when entering into any agreement and compromise.                     

    Power and capital are one. This is an immutable formula. Therefore, the struggle for one’s social and economic interests is always a political struggle; it is a struggle against the power that humiliates employees and people, but not a struggle for power. This is what distinguishes trade unions from a political party. 

    The goal of our struggle is to improve the situation for employees – their rights, incomes, and their normal position in society. Those who feed the state deserve respect and decent work. We have only one way – fighting for workers’ rights, for the freedom of choice of the working person, summed up Aleksandr Bukhvostov.