Belarusian unions prepare to struggle against short-term contracts

30.10.2014

On 24 October 2014 in Minsk IndustriALL Global Union held the workshop to evaluate «Possible joint actions of Belarusian unions against precarious work. Possibilities for strengthening cooperation of trade unions in Belarus against the system of short-term labour contracts. "

The workshop was the result of the decision of the IndustriALL Executive Committee based on the recommendations made by the Mission to Belarus held in March 2014. Some thirty trade union leaders and activists from all four affiliates were present at the workshop.

Ivan Mohnachuk, member of IndustriALL Executive Committee and chairman of the Russian Independent Coal Employees’ Union – ROSUGLEPROF, shared Russian unions’ experience about the threat that upcoming privatization of enterprises represents to the workers and trade unions in Belarus. He said that one of the first steps of the new owners will likely become a so-called "production’s optimization", in reality meaning a massive reduction in employment. In Belarus workers remain particularly vulnerable because of the widely spread short-term employment contracts.

Vadim Borisov, IndustriALL representative in CIS countries, reported about the actions taken by the global trade union movement aimed at restraining precarious forms of employment. He described in detail various forms of precarious employment extensively used in the countries of the region.

Svetlana Klochok, chair of the Belarusian Trade Union of Chemical, Mining and Oil Industries Workers (BELKHIMPROFSOYUZ), spoke about the actions of her organization to limit the negative effects of the massive use of short-term contracts in Belarus.

Nikolai Zimin, chairman of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union, called for resolute measures in the fight for abolition of the President Lukashenko Decree No. 29, 1999, which shifted almost entire working population to short-term contracts in Belarus.

Alexander Bukhvostau, chairman of the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers, SPM noted that the system of short-term contracts in the first place victimizes the most active citizens, many of whom are activists of free trade unions not affiliated with the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus.

Leader of the Radio and Electronic Industry Workers’ Union (REP) Gennadi Fedynich, presented an initiative aimed to collect signatures for a collective letter demanding to amend the Labour Code of the Republic of Belarus. Fedynich hopes that the changes will help increase the security of workers employed on short-term contracts and neutralize the Presidential Decree № 29 "On additional measures to improve labour relations, strengthen labour and executive discipline."

SPM supported the proposal and is now preparing to take part in the campaign to collect signatures in support of the initiative together with REP. The aim of the campaign will be to collect 50,000 signatures, then the initiative will be passed through the Central Electoral Committee for consideration by the Parliament.

“IndustriALL Global Union is happy that our Belarusian affiliates work and struggle together against their common challenge which is short-term contract system,” said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary. “The campaign in Belarus will continue to get our support within our global campaign against precarious work”.