Violation of Belarusian workers’ rights is to become the key issue at the International Labour Conference in Geneva.
It has been said by the chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions Alyaksandr Yarashuk in his interview to charter97.org.
- Mr. Yarashuk, we congratulate you on being elected Vice President and the member of the General Council of the International Confederation of Trade Unions at the 3rd Congress of the organisation which was held on May 18-23 in Berlin. What additional opportunities in struggle for the rights of Belarusian workers have you received in this connection?
- This position makes my status considerably higher, as what is meant here is that I am not simply the leader of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions in my country, but I have capacity as one of the leaders of the International Congress of Trade Unions. And it changes my potential considerably, as I can speak on behalf of this organisation and make pertinent statements. Thus the BCDTU has once again received recognition of the international trade union movement. It certainly makes us happy and offers hope that with the help of the instrument of international trade union solidarity we would not just be able to withstand in the standoff with the Belarusian regime, but win a victory. That is why one should realize that what has happened in Berlin is a political decision of the organisation, which knows very well about events in Belarus. Besides, the ICTU realizes very well that the future of the international trade union movement is in no small measure decided in our country as well.
- Does the international trade union movement have effective instruments to influence Lukashenka’s regime for violations of workers’ rights? If yes, what are they?
- When the Belarusian government refused to follow recommendations of the International Labour Organization, which had been aimed at reinstatement of workers and trade unions, in 2007 the International and European Confederations of Trade Unions deprived Belarus trade preferences. So it could be said that the principle of international trade union solidarity works out, and it will snap when needed.
- Other countries have problems with violations of workers’ rights as well, to a greater or lesser degree. Is interest to Belarus visible against this background?
- There is no problem in that. In the run-up to the congress a list of the countries with the worst conditions for workers had been published. And Belarus was among the 25 countries topping the list. It means forced labour, and all other things. By the way, yesterday Lukashenka made a statement that the practice of forced labour at enterprises should be expanded to the agribusiness as well. Belarus is also among 25 countries with the worst conditions for trade union activities. These problems are to be considered at the annual International Labour Conference in Geneva on May 31, and the Belarusian question goes second in the list. So it speaks for itself.