ITUC: Belarusian trade unions operate in hard legal environment
9:26, — Politics
International Trade Union Confederation notes "systematic violations" of trade union rights in Belarus.
There were no major moves by the Belarusian government during 2011 to address the "systematic violations" of labor and trade union rights, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said in its latest annual report on the situation of trade unions across the world released this week.
“The small changes introduced were more a demonstration of restraint, compared to the brutal interference in trade union activities and structures that took place in the past,” says ITUC.
With reference to the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions, the ITUC says that members affiliated with independent trade unions at Naftan Oil Refinery, the Hrodna Azot chemical company and Mazyr Oil Refinery were still under pressure in 2011.
The Confederation also expresses concern about the extensive use of one-year employment contracts in Belarus and accuses the authorities of failing to “act constructively” on recommendations issued by the International Labor Organization’s Commission of Inquiry as far back as 2004.
Commenting on violations of trade union rights recorded in Belarus in 2011, the ITUC mentions a jail term imposed on Pavel Stanewski, an activist of the Free Trade Union (FTU) in Hrodna, and the detention of FTU leader Mikhail Kavalkow for more than 10 hours without a charge.
It also notes attempts to dissolve independent trade unions’ grass-roots organizations, which it says took place at Mazyr Oil Refinery; the denial of state registration to a local FTU organization in Polatsk; the dismissal of applications filed by independent trade unions for permission to hold demonstrations; and the pressure imposed after the December 19, 2010 post-election protest in Minsk on members of independent trade unions, who were interrogated by the Committee for State Security (KGB) and police and had their homes searched.
In a separate paragraph, the ITUC mentions the pressure on workers at crushed stone mining company RUVP Hranit who decided to establish a grass-roots organization of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BITU) after quitting the pro-government Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FTUB)’s local chapter. The management of the state-owned company refused to provide the independent union organization with an office, which is necessary for its registration, while the leader of the BITU chapter was dismissed.