The FPB awkward service to Belarusian Government
The Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FPB) is disseminating appeals among national trade union centers and international trade union organizations against withdrawal of from the EU Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) in trade with EU countries. Apart from that, the FPB has made a draft appeal on behalf of the ILO Workers’ Group. Both documents were signed by Leonid Kozik, the FPB Head and his loyal branch union leaders. The appeals and addresses were sent to the unions of ,and other countries. BKDP is sure that such a campaign is an awkward service rendered to Belarusian Government.
In 70’s of the last century, in the period of the USSR reign and the overwhelming support of the USSR and socialist camp by numerous Third World countries, the EU countries decided to introduce such a mechanism as providing trade benefits to those countries, which respect the rights of workers and their trade unions and the core labor standards: ILO Conventions 87 on the right to organize and Convention 98 on collective bargaining. If Conventions 87 and 98 are neglected the existence and functioning of free and independent trade unions becomes highly problematic. It is exactly what is happening nowadays in Belarus.
Trade benefits are a kind of bonus for the states that respect and observe in practice universally recognized international standards and laws, which were ratified by their own parliaments. Each year the commodity turnover is calculated in the trade with EU countries and if everything goes well and if the EU Commission decides that this or that country respects the international standards relating to workers and trade unions rights, then 10% of the annual trade volume goes back to the country. In case of Belarus it amounts to nearly 350-400 mln. Euro per year. As you may see it’s not a small sum of money.
Starting with dissolution of strike in Minsk metro in 1995 the rights of independent trade unions have been violated permanently since. As a result the independent trade unions and former FPB (democratic) filed a complaint to the ILO about the government. After having made numerous verifications by itself the ILO sent special independent Commission of Inquiry to Belarus in 2004. The Commission worked out 12 recommendations to Government to fulfill without delay. As the regime had taken over the FPB, biggest workers organization, under its control, the Federation headed by ex-deputy chief of presidential Administration Kozik, had to recall its signature in the complaint and had to announce everywhere that there were no violations of trade unions rights in Belarus whatever.
The government claims that the ILO recommendations are invented and asserts that there aren’t any violations in the country. This is the reason why the FPB appeals to their affiliates to sign the statements and address them to the countries that had voted for the recall of trade benefits from Belarus. These statements have been prepared beforehand by the regime. This reminds recent soviet times when communist party (and nowadays this is done by “driving belt” FPB) initiated angry resolutions of condemnation by workers of any external and internal enemies This is a similar story. But in former time soviet propaganda specialists were far more professional and smart so they tried to avoid situations like the one with the “Appeal on behalf of the ILO Workers’ Group” signed by Kozik and his loyal team.
There is no such body as “Workers’ Group” neither in the USA, Australia, Africa, Arab world nor even in Iran. It simply does not exist. Probably those people, who were preparing the draft of the appeal (and it’s easy to guess where it was prepared) tried to give more significance to it by using the term “Workers’ Group”. This term exists and is valid only during the work of International Labor Conference or ILO Governing Body meeting, when due to the procedure temporary bodies such as Workers’ Group, Group of employers or Group of governments are formed. No one from the people signed the appeal is a member of the Workers Group. Kozik is the only person who can be the member but only when the ILO Conference starts its work. The conference has not even started yet and L.Kozik is not accredited but the appeal has been already spread worldwide. This is the case when the initiative is punishable. The FPB is not recognized by international community as a trade union. This organization is a state controlled entity and carries out orders of authorities and does not care of interests of workers who have to be the members of it because of fear to loose their jobs. Having lost cheap energy supply from Russia the regime started cutting the social benefits.
Addressing its members the FPB intimidates people with future reduction of work places and loss of social benefits because of the withdrawal of Belarus from EU Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). And this is a clear deception and intimidation. Till now no one, including exporting companies, except some people in the government and appropriate ministries know about these preferences and of 400 mln Euro per year. No one had ever told either to the people of Belarus or to the FPB members who the recipient of the money used to have been and what had this money been spent for. The leaders of so called branch unions in FPB unthinkingly have put their signatures under these appeals and statements. The initiators of this campaign do not suspect that they are doing an awkward service to the regime and cutting the ground under its legs.
Within the next few days the BKDP will hold its regular Council meeting and will adopt a relevant Statement concerning FPB’s initiative and implementation of ILO recommendations by the Government. This will be the document that all the interested parties will have to recon with.
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