Kyrgyzstan: Organisation and representation of workers engaged in informal labour relations - in transport, textile and commerce sectors

Following the request of the FPKg and in continuation of joint ACTRAV-ITUC project on representation and protection of workers engaged in informal labour relations the ILO Moscow office organized three-day seminar for trade union activities from selected targeted sectors – commence, transport and textile – on organizing, protection and representation of workers in these sectors, who mostly are working in atypical and mostly informal conditions. The ITUC-PERC participated in the seminar.

President of the FPRK Asylbek Toktogulov welcomed the participants and informed them that this seminar was part of a broader programme the FPKg developed jointly with the ILO that also included visit of Georgian trade union leaders and the ITUC and stressed that through this cooperation the FPKg sought to improve its expertise and capacities to face challenges the trade union movement faced in the country: of reform processes that include labour law amendments but also of the existing high level informality of labour and non-respect of workers’ rights. He welcomed Georgian experience in building unionism in informal sectors – transport and commerce – and reiterated the FPKg intention to strengthen mutual cooperation.

Sergeus Glovackas, ACTRAV Senior specialist on workers’ activities, informed that promotion of decent work is the foremost priority for the ILO and that all its programmers in the country address at least one of the Decent Work pillars: international labour standards, employment promotion, social protection and social dialog. The work to support organization and promotion of decent work conditions to all different groups of workers – including those in informal economy – is the heart of the ILO supported programmes with the FPKg. It is a part of the current Decent Work Country Programme and will be further prioritized in the new DWCP that is being negotiated with the social partners of Kyrgyzstan now. He also introduced the international standards applicable to those working in informal labour situations, first of all, the core labour standards and in particular, Conventions 87 and 98, but also more specific standards, e.g. Conventions 177 (Home workers) and 189 (Domestic Workers) and ILO Recommendation 198 (Employment Relations).

Irakliy Petriashvili, President of the Georgian Trade Union Confederation, introduced the GTUC work on promotion workers’ rights and on strengthening trade union movement, including its presence in sectors where informal employment dominates. He, in particular, presented work on building unions in transport and commerce sectors, where traditional sectoral unions reformed themselves to represent all the workers, most of them work in informal conditions. Transport workers union now has only 17% of formal workers, but its membership is growing and collective agreements that cover its members are signed in Tbilisi, Rustavi and Batumi.

Anton Leppik, ITUC-PERC adviser, presented the ITUC and PERC work in the field of informal economy and employment. He told that the ITUC priorities – of building workers power, promoting decent wages and social protection for all and realization of workers’ rights – perfectly fit the work the FPKg is doing in the three targeted sectors. He introduced two interlinked approaches the ITUC-PERC was applying to the challenge of informality: the need to improve economic governance and to establish incentives to formalize labour relations and the need to outreach and to represent all the workers, including those in the situation of informality. He presented the ITUC experiences, its pilot programmes in the CEE countries, expertise and capacities developed by its affiliates.

After the presentations international consultant Vsevolod Barbaneagre started training activities with the group that would allow them to identify employment relations and motivation of workers, to assist workers in identification of bargaining partners, to use mechanisms of rights protection and to raise awareness about risks and challenges the informal employment brings to the country and workers. The participants developed action plans in the respective sectors. The implementation of the action plans will be assessed by the FPKg Council and will guide it in formulation of further cooperation priorities with the ILO.