Unjust verdict against union leaders in Belarus upheld, elected union leaders forced to step down

IndustriALL Global Union, International Confederation of Trade Unions (ITUC), IndustriAll European Trade Union and European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) sent letters to Guy Ryder, Director-General of International Labour Organization (ILO) and to Federica Mogherini High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to give a further update on the situation in Belarus and particularly about ongoing persecutions of independent trade union leaders of the Belarusian Radio and Electronics Industry Workers’ Union (REP), Gennady Fedynich and Ihar Komlik.

The City Court of Minsk decided on 9 November to uphold the guilty verdict against two trade union leaders in Belarus. Currently, both Fedynich and Komlik have been removed from their elected leadership union positions.

In an unfair trial and in the absence of convincing evidence, both leaders were convicted for large-scale tax evasion and have been ordered to pay a large fine, which together with all court expenses along with administrative fines total approximately US$25,000. In addition, they are subject to a four-year suspended imprisonment, and a ban on holding senior positions for five years.

ITUC, IndustriALL, ETUC and IndustriAll Europe strongly disagree with this court’s verdict, and the decision to reject the appeal.

As earlier reported the entire case is based on accusations of illegal use of international aid supposedly received by the union in 2011-2012. The authorities accused the leaders of non-registration of the aid with governmental authorities and nonpayment of taxes on the income received from the aid.

Even if the accusations against the union leaders could be proven in court, receiving international aid cannot be considered as a violation per se, as the right to donate, receive and use foreign aid falls under articles 5 and 6 of the ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, ratified by Belarus.

You can find full text in letters below

Letter to ILO Guy Ryder
Letter to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini