ITUC/PERC statement on Belarus

Following the important developments in consolidating the independent trade unions at the end of 2009 and the need to adjust and streamline policy responses to the current realities of the context for development of independent trade unionism, the ITUC/PERC jointly with some GUFs and other interested national organisations organised a special country meeting devoted to the problems of Belarus and the future of independent trade unionism the country. The meeting provided a forum for all interested actors in the case to take part, including broad representation of the unified BKDP structures, European, international and national level trade union organisations, to discuss the challenges in the current state of affairs and possible options for BKDP and its structures to advance along the process framed by the ILO recommendations for shaping labour relations system in line with the internationally established labour standards.

Taking into account the specific situation in the country, the controversial signals arising from the actions of the government and the discussions at the meeting, the ITUC/PERC:

• Acknowledges the importance of the efforts on each side to consolidate the unification process of all genuine trade unions in the country in a single national structure - BKDP;
• Underlines the dual nature of the approach of the government, still allowing significant space for intimidation and direct pressure on organisations and individual workers associated with the independent trade unions. The overall approach continues to prevent stabilisation and institutionalisation of the initial steps taken, and continues to avoid addressing the serious issues, identified in the ILO recommendations. This deficit of good will and political resolve still fails to open the space for the operation of the system in a transparent, inclusive and efficient way capable of addressing the challenges of social dialogue and labour relations policies in a democratic way;
• Considers the diminishing of dynamics of the work of the Council for the Improvement of Legislation in the Social and Labour Sphere as a clear indication of the lack of motivation of the Government to search for truly working solutions, respecting the recommendations of the ILO;
• Reiterates its full support for BKDP and the advance of independent trade unionism in Belarus. To these ends it supports the necessary adjustments and coordination among the solidarity organisations to use their expert and policy assistance to reinforce the work on the priorities as identified by the BKDP governing bodies.
Following the decision of the participants to make this type of country meeting an annual event and to set up a steering group of representatives of BKDP, ITUC/PERC and GUFs, the ITUC/PERC is ready to facilitate the dissemination of information to all participants and to provide technical service for the organisation of the annual meetings.

John Monks
ITUC/PERC General Secretary