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Belarusian workers face repression at Belaruskali

15 April, 2019IndustriALL Global Union condemns the violation of fundamental labour rights at Belaruskali, Belarusian potash fertilizer company, faced by members of Belarusian Independent Trade Union, an affiliate of the IndustriALL Global Union.

In a letter to the company dated to 11 April 2019, IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches said:

“We are outraged with the reports about the anti-union policies and practices engaged by the management of Belaruskali, which have resulted in the forced withdrawal of quite a number of members from BITU, including workers from Remmontazhstroy and Kaliyspetstrans.

“These forced withdrawals are taking place under pressure from your management. Workers are forced to fill in withdrawal applications from BITU, which are prepared in advance by management representatives. This includes direct intervention from the general director of Belaruskali company, the deputy ideology director and all other high-level managers using the power of administration of the company.”

As recently as the beginning of 2019, IndustriALL reported the good news that for the first time since the submission of a complaint to the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2000 on violations of trade union rights, Belarusian authorities had registered an independent local union at Remmontazhstroy, a Belaruskali subsidiary.

Trade unions inside and outside Belarus pose in solidarity with the Bealrusian Independent Trade Union BITU.
On the photo: Owen Tudor , ITUC deputy geenral secretary and Irakli Irakli Petriashvili , ITUC PERC president

However soon after the registration, workers faced the administration’s retaliation for the registration of their independent union. Immediately after the registration of the local union of BITU at Remmontazhstroy there was an attempt to register another BITU local at a similar subsidiary, Kaliyspetstrans. However, before the union members attempted to apply for state registration, Kaliyspectrans management forced them to resign from their independent trade union.

Reportedly, the repression is taking place with the involvement of another affiliate of IndustriALL, Belkhimprosoyuz, also operating at the same company. IndustriALL is carrying out an internal investigation and will make take further statutory steps accordingly.

Sanches drew the attention of the company’s top leadership to the fact that this behaviour of Belaruskali management “constitutes a clear breach of international labour standards, including Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining of the International Labour Organization (ILO).”

In his letter Sanches underlines that “The right of workers to form and join trade unions of their own choosing is an integral part of a free and open society.”

He further points that what management does against BITU and its members “is clearly in violation of universal values, principles and norms. This is not in the interest of anyone, including your company.”

IndustriALL urged Belaruskali “to take immediate actions to put an end to these gross violations of labour rights against members of BITU.”