Azerbaijan: trade unions discuss the imformal economy

On October 2 in the framework of ITUC/PERC FNV IE project meeting-seminar for Northwest Azerbaijan region took place in the city of Gakh. 60 trade union activists participated from 6 Northwest Azerbaijan region districts.

This is the first such kind of event in the region and it received a lot of attention from trade unions and the authorities. Gakh mayor Telman Jenusov greeted seminar. AHIK Vice-president Agil Dadasev and Sergejus Glovackas moderated the event. AHIK is implementing the national IE action plan and is concentrating on work in the regions, especially in agriculture sector, where informal work is on mass scale.

During the event presentations of safety and tax inspection representatives were made, were was noted that penalties for illegal workers employment to the individual is 2200 euro, for juridical person is 4500 euro, but still illegal employment is booming, serious problem is that employers do not come to pick up labour cards for workers, which are issued by local Employment agency and is obligatory for all employees.

National Project Coordinator Arif Ibrahimov presented the national
mapping paper, told about AHIK activities in IE field. Although Azerbaijan least crisis affected country from CIS, GDP growth is 5%, but the impact feels there also. Very decreased emigrants money transfers from Russia therefore decreases domestic consumption. Falling oil prices also does impact to country economy. Manat (currency) remains stable but costs the government much effort and resources it to maintain. Informally number of employed grows, inflation remains high. Increasing prices lead population to poverty as growth of wages is frozen.

Dzemlaldin Ismailov Vice-President of Commercial Trade Unions presented implemented project for Decent work and labour rights and their branch experience organizing IE workers. The project is being implemented together with ILO and state decent work program. Branch by itself prepared action plan, which covers all Azerbaijan area. Several events were supported by FES. There were organized 22 regional seminars meetings. Over 1000 social partners attended it. 2200 people joined Commercial Trade Union during the program activities mostly informal workers. Regional structures established in 6 districts.

Participants expressed their wish that AHIK further would concentrate on work in regions where IE problem remains serious issue.

On October 5 in Azerbaijan Labour Academy in the framework of the project round table was organized on Informal employment reduction through social partnership. 40 participants attended – representatives of trade unions, authorities and employers. During the event AHIK national project coordinator Arif Ibargimov presented national action plan for IE workers protection representation and organising.

Head of the Labor Policy Department of the Ministry of Labor mentioned in his report that of the total working age population 34% are employed, 6% unemployed, other in agriculture, self employed i.e. informal workers. ILO carried out research about employment structure and gave the material for Labor Ministry. The World Bank estimates unemployment 9%. Another problem is the existence of illegal labor exchanges points through which most people searches for day and random work. There is a specialization among them - labor exchange point for women housekeepers and etc.
Representative of Employers Association welcomed TU work activation of this area. She expressed the wish that their association would be actively included in these activities.

The participants complained about inefficient Labor Inspection activity. It avoids making common raids with the Trade Unions. It might be corrupt interest as well. No one knows the actual number of employed people in IE, but it certainly is at least 60 %. New tripartite agreement must include articles affecting IE workers rights and protection.

It was agreed to continue to organize periodically such tripartite round tables.