Zinaida Mikhnyuk and Gennady Fedynich, August 2018

Belarusian union REP forced to replace leader Gennady Fedynich

23.11.2018

On November 22, 2018, the City Court upheld the verdict of the local penal court of August 2018 ruling that Gennady Fedynich has to leave his position as chairman of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Belarusian Radio and Electronic Industry Workers' Union (REP).

REP’s Board unanimously decided to name Zinaida Mikhnyuk as acting chair till the next Congress of the union in 2020. A close friend and colleague of Gennady, Zinaida was the deputy chair of REP.

However, Gennady Fedynich does not leave the union movement since the REP board unanimously appointed him as advisor, a specially created position. In this capacity, Gennady will consult for the union by taking the floor in court on behalf of the union, representing the union in different state agencies and other organizations, analyzing the work of the union and its structures as well as participating in negotiations and collective bargaining.

After her elections as acting chair of REP, Zinaida Mikhnyuk comments:

“We are a team that worked this entire year in a special mode because of the criminal case. I, as the first deputy chair, signed complaints to the Prosecutor General’s Office, to the Presidential Administration, signed characteristics of the leaders of our union, financial documents.” 

“For me, there is nothing new. I hoped till the very last moment that the decision of the court would be canceled, that the international organizations which attended each court hearing would influence the adoption of a fairer decision. As our leader, Gennady Fedynich, said: “it was not Komlik and myself who were tried, it was our organization, the independent trade union movement that was tried, that is, all of us. But we are a team, and we will work until the next congress: we have a programme, and we have a plan.”

Gennady Fedynich does not believe everything is over and is going to appeal the court decision further:

“There is a possibility to appeal through the chairman of the city court, or the Supreme Court ... We also prepare documents to the UN Human Rights Committee ... If the government hoped to hobble our union in this way, then I will now have even more opportunities to visit people.”

Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary comments on the verdict regarding the “trade union case” and further developments in Belarus:

“In the clear absence of rule of law and a fair trial, we fully support our affiliate, the trade union REP and its leadership in their legitimate actions to protect their union from interference by the authorities.

“As for us, we will inform European and international institutions of these recent developments and will build further pressure on the Belarusian government. In particular we will address the governments of the countries which are the main trading partners of Belarus and demand they reconsider their relations with Belarus. We are also going to address the organizing committee of the European Games which are planned in Minsk in summer 2019 and demand that they reconsider the location of the games in light of these constant violations and injustice towards trade unions in Belarus.”