From March 4 to March 6 the IUF is convening a first ever meeting of its affiliates in the CIS (the republics of the former Soviet Union).
Thirteen unions from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine met in Moscow to explore the impact of globalization on the CIS and to develop a trade union campaign to raise awareness of the dangers that may arise from what are at present virtually secret discussions between regional governments and the World Trade Organization (WTO) about the plans of at least some countries of the region to apply for membership of the WTO. The meeting planned to explore how much more transparency could be brought to this process and what role trade unions could play in it.
Union representatives present also discussed how to tackle the accelerating penetration of transnational companies on the region and the implications for workers’ rights and employment.
The representatives also discussed some structural improvements in order to increase the highly needed interregional cooperation within the CIS and with the European regional structure of the IUF.
Focus on Belarus
The brutal attack by the regime in Belarus against trade union rights in that country was a major theme on the first day. Delegates heard a report of the latest situation from Aleksander Yaroshuk, President of the Agro Industrial Workers’ Union of Belarus. Recognizing the common interest in defending workers’ rights in Belarus, massive support was expressed to the Belarussian unions by all delegates present, as well as by IUF general secretary, Ron Oswald, and by the ILO’s CIS representative.
The representatives of the IUF affiliates in CIS agreed on a letter to the President of the Republic of Belarus, A.Lukashenko, in which they raised their deep concern that the government of Belarus has not yet abrogated its Decree 1804. This document is not only fraught with adverse consequences for trade union, but also seriously undermines the reputation of the country. The letter stated: “We again call upon you, Mr. President, to use your authority to have this document of the Belarussian Government that is discriminatory to the trade unions abrogated.” To see the full text of the letter click
here. [Microsoft Word document.]