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Fighting the dismantlement of Belarus’ independent trade unions

22 July, 2022The regime in Belarus has dismantled the country's independent trade unions. IndustriALL and affiliates stand strong in defending them and democracy in the country.

On 18 July, the Supreme Court decided to liquidate and dissolve the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP), and its four members, three of them affiliated to IndustriALL - the Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BITU or BNP), the Union of Radio and Electronics Workers (REP), the Free Trade Union of Belarus (SPB), and the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers (SPM).

IndustriALL  considers the decision null and void and continues to support its affiliates BITU, SPM and REP. 

In its letter to the ILO Director General for urgent intervention,

"IndustriALL condemns in the strongest possible terms the court decision, which we do not recognize. We will continue to assist and fully support the independent trade unions in Belarus to guarantee their organizational continuity.”

The repression of independent trade unions in Belarus is politically motivated and constitutes an assault on democracy and its institutions. The arrest of trade union leaders for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of association constitutes a grave violation of their fundamental human rights.

IndustriALL is demanding that the 15 trade union leaders and activists remaining in prison are released immediately:

1. Aliaksandr Yarashuk – Chairperson of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic trade unions, BKDP. 2. Siarhei Antusevich – Vice-Chairperson of BKDP.
3. Hennadz Fiadynich – Vice-chairperson of the Radio and Electronic workers’ union, REP.
4. Vatslau Areshka – activist of REP.
5. Mikhail Hromau - Member and Secretary of SPM Council.
6. Iryna But-Husaim - BKDP media team officer, book-keeper of BKDP.
7. Miraslau Sabchuk – Activist of SPM.
8. Yanina Malash - Deputy Chairperson of SPM, officer for organizing.
9. Vitali Chychmarou - Member of SPM Council, labour inspector.
10. Vasil Berasneu - Acting Chairperson of REP.
11. Zinaida Mikhniuk - Deputy chairperson of REP.
12. Aliaksandr Mishuk – Vice-Chairperson of BITU, Chairperson of BITU at JSC Belaruskali.
13. Ihar Povarau – activist of BITU at Belarusian Metallurgical Plant, BMZ.
14. Yauhen Hovar – activist of BITU at Belarusian Metallurgical Plant, BMZ.
15. Artsiom Zhernak – Chairperson of SPM at Minsk Automobile plant.

IndustriALL also demands that

“as a matter of urgency, the government of Belarus must give access to visitors, including an ILO mission to the country, IndustriALL, ITUC and other global trade union organizations, to ascertain the conditions of arrest and detention and the welfare of the detained trade unionists.”

In addition, IndustriALL demands that access be given to these organizations to observe the ongoing trials against trade unionists and trade union organizations.

“IndustriALL Global Union is committed to continue to support and assist Belorussian independent unions in their struggle to exercise under any circumstances, without fear of persecution or detention, their right to peaceful assembly and association, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of the press, the right to a fair trial, and the right to organize and collective bargaining,”

says IndustriALL assistant general secetary Kemal Ōzkan.

“The government of Belarus must change course and commit to global democratic standards.”

Badly made and unconvincing fake news are part the relentless attacks by the regime in Belarus. The state propaganda machinery has escalated its attacks on IndustriALL, the ILO, as well as national unions. Belarusian state TV showed a film, containing illegal recordings from union offices, as well as illegally obtained IndustriALL footage, attempting to portray a corrupt union leadership.

Taking full account of these egregious violations of human and fundamental trade union rights, IndustriALL is calling on affiliates to contact the embassy of Belarus in their country and send a model letter.
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