Belarusian Congress Of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP)
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Belarusian Congress Of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP)
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The BKDP Council adopted its Statement linked with EU decision to withdraw Belarus from the Generalized System of Preferences in trade (GSP)

It is only three weeks before the European Union's decision to temporarily withdraw trading preferences from Belarus in response to persistent violation of trade union rights comes into force. In this respect the BKDP Council has adopted it’s special Statement.


of the Council of Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions

It is only three weeks before the European Union's decision to temporarily withdraw trading preferences from Belarus in response to persistent violation of trade union rights comes into force. With great concern and apprehension, we must state that the government have not followed the voice of reason and have not acted in a way appropriate to any politically and socially responsible authority facing a threat of serious economic losses for the country and its people. In the time given to them, the government, instead of solving the problem, once again concentrated their political will and considerable energy on continued attempts to manipulate the international community. In the course of the last three months we have seen the authorities employ their full set of various propaganda tools and cliches that were to simulate implementation of the ILO recommendations.

The apotheosis of the Belarusian official propaganda and policy was a vociferous campaign against the withdrawal of trading preferences organized by the leadership of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FPB). Enacted in the worst traditions of the Soviet propaganda machine, the campaign, it seems, became the final nail in the trading preferences coffin, since people in full possession of their faculties would not have risked sending to the embassies of EU countries and to the Director General of the ILO a declaration stating that the issue of trade union rights violation in Belarus was contrived.

All of this is going on the back of truly titanic attempts by the Belarus government to convince the ILO and EU countries that the ILO recommendations are being or have been implemented. But if the government strain themselves to prove that the recommendations are implemented, it should follow that they have acknowledged the recommendations. Therefore, they have also acknowledged that the longstanding claims by the ILO and EU with regard to trade unions rights in Belarus are valid. At the same time, the largest national trade union centre with a 99% membership of the country's workers contradicts the government and states categorically in its letters to international bodies that there are no trade union rights violations in Belarus! To put it mildly, the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.

Trade union rights in Belarus have been constantly violated in the course of the last twelve years. In 2000 the independent trade unions and the then FPB submitted to the ILO a claim against the government. After multiple inspections and a visit to Belarus by a special ILO Commission of Inquiry in 2004, the Commission came up with twelve recommendations to be implemented immediately by the Belarus Government. After the regime had brought the FPB – the largest workers' organization in the country – under its full control, the FPB, now lead by Mr Kozik, the former Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, urgently had to withdraw their signature under the claim and must now declare at every available opportunity that there are no trade union rights violations in Belarus.

Thus, the FPB is a loyal bastion of the current regime. On many occasions and on governmental orders they took part in actions violating the rights of the independent trade unions or eliminating their primary organizations. Instead of using the voice of the four million of their members to require the government to implement the ILO recommendations, to stop trade union rights violations and to preserve for the country the considerable economic benefits of trade with the EU, the Federation officials force their members to put their signatures under declarations of support to the government. All of this demonstrates a complete moral degradation of the FPB, which turned into an organization concerned exclusively with serving the authorities and their practical goals.

The absolute majority of the country's workers did not and do not have an opportunity to acquaint themselves with the ILO recommendations. They do not understand the essence and targets of trading preferences, do not know what areas are funded by the benefit. They do not realize that it is not the scheming enemies of the country, the European Union and the ILO, seeking suffering for the people of Belarus, who are responsible for the potential loss of hundreds of millions of euros annually – just as it is not the BKDP and its organizations, who have never called upon the EU to withdraw trading preferences from Belarus.

The reason for the EU to have voted for the withdrawal of preferences from Belarus was gross violations of trade union rights by the government and their persistent neglect of the international commitments undertaken by the country. Therefore, the regime, its policy and its perpetrators are going to be the real culprits responsible for the country's economic losses if the preferences are withdrawn. It will be they who will have to answer for that to the people of Belarus; and that will happen, sooner or later.

At the same time, the BKDP Council has to note that the future of trading preferences for Belarus will not be decided forever on the 21st of June. It will not be too late to arrive at a solution beneficial for all the interested parties (and the BKDP has been and will ever be interested in preserving trading preferences for Belarus) even after the EU decision will have come into force. Only one thing is required: for the government to show a real political will and a real responsibility in implementing the ILO recommendations.

It is high time to change the policy of double standards, to stop nonsensical verbal acrobatics and attempts to make a show of some questionable legislative moves, and to get down to business instead. After all, restitution of trade union rights in the country requires much less time and effort than those expended by the government to pretend implementation of the ILO recommendations and escape a deserved punishment from the European Union. If this happens, if there are positive shifts in the governmental policy, the BKDP is ready to make the appropriate and responsible step of initiating the return of the preferences before the end of this year. In this way the country would have a chance of escaping the calamity, and it is for the government to decide whether they can take it.

At the same time we would like to warn the authorities against a temptation to use the current situation as a pretext to eliminate the BKDP. If the EU withdrawal of the preferences is followed by a campaign of lies, discreditation, threats and persecution, the BKDP reserves the right to appeal to all foreign national trade union centers and international trade union organizations to show solidarity and make every effort to influence the regime, including by various, possibly economic, boycotts. We will be able to defend ourselves and our people, just as we did it on multiple occasions in the past.

BKDP Council

29 May 2007

BKDP Press Centre

Tel.214-89-05 (06)

e-mail: [email protected]


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