WILL INDEPENDENT UNIONS SUCCEED IN REACHING "GENTLEMAN AGREEMENT" WITH GOVERNMENT AND EMPLOYERS?
On March 17 in the Labor Ministry premises the BKDP Deputy Chairman Nikolai Kanakh took part in the meeting of the Working group. Group members were to formulate the agenda of the next meeting of the Council for improvement of labor and social legislation which has been preliminarily scheduled for April.
The registration of trade union organizations was identified by the BKDP representative as a key problem to be addressed urgently. We recall that three months ago, the BKDP has prepared and sent to the Council for improvement of labor and social legislation a document with proposal to simplify the registration procedures and bring them in line with the ILO recommendations.The essence of this document is that the legal capacity of a union association or a primary-level organization as legal entities should begin from the moment of their registration in the Ministry of Justice by way of notification.The mentioned document also contained the demand to abolish the necessity of putting trade union structures without legal status on record in registering bodies which is contradicting to international norms and the Labor Code. The requirement of legal address for registering and putting on file record of trade union structures (primary-level organizations) very often becomes an insurmountable obstacle for functioning of independent unions in Belarus.
“The discussion showed that the Governmentafter many years had to recognize the availability of the problem and the need of finding ways to solve it. Nevertheless, it is not prepared yet to break the taboo and to encroach upon the "sacred cow" - Presidential Decree № 2 of 26 January 1999 "On some measures to regulate the activities of political parties, social organizations and trade unions" and to initiate changes into it. This Decree, as we know, has introduced a permissive principle instead of a notifying one when setting up and functioning of trade unions – says Nikolai Kanakh, BKDP Deputy Chairman.
During the discussion the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Protection I. Starovoitov suggested that within the framework of the Tripartite National Council on Labor and Social Issues (NCLSI) a "gentlemen's agreement" could be taken, under which the employers will bind themselves to providing legal address to newly set up unions and this will be the basis for registering the unions.
“This idea could be acceptable, but we are to keep our feelings under control being aware that Belarusian officials not once have demonstrated that they were giving promises with a free hand, as well as were taking their verbal promises and commitments easily back” – underlined Nikolai Kanakh.
A meaningful and businesslike talk on current violations of trade union rights also took place: on problems of concluding collective agreement between employer of OAO “Naftan” oil refinery and local union of BNP in Novopolotsk; on denial of members of Free Trade Union (SPB) in attending sporting facilities at Bobruisk tractor parts and components plant; refusal to grant the leadership of independent trade union at "Mozyr Oil Refinery" a permanent pass for having access to union members workplaces. Will practical measures follow this conversation? It will become clear quite soon.
“For the recent time we have been observing certain steps on the part of the Government which may be interpreted as an intention to resume the frozen internal dialogue on the issue of trade union rights in the country. Without any doubts, this intention is explained by the forthcoming ILO Governing Body and the ILC. – summed up Nikolai Kanakh.
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