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First meeting in Kyrgyzstan with new textile affiliate

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21 September, 2016IndustriALL Global Union and the newly affiliated, Textile Workers’ Union of Kyrgyzstan held their first ever meeting in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on 5 September.

The seminar was organized to examine and discuss regional trends in the textile and garment industry and their impact on trade unions’ organizing capacities.

Rysgul Babaeva, Vice President of Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan, Almash Zharkynbaeva, President of Textile Workers’ Union, and Vadim Borisov, from IndustriALL’s regional office opened the meeting by highlighting the importance of social dialogue and the importance of continued organizing.

Zharkynbaeva reported on the situation in textile and garment industry of Kyrgyzstan, which employs 150,000 workers. Production is mainly exported to Russia and Kazakhstan under the label ‘Made in Kyrgyzstan’. Since production is disseminated among thousands of small enterprises, there are not yet any large global brands in Kyrgyzstan.

Twenty-give trade union participants came from local enterprise unions and were also joined by a representative of the employers’ association in Kyrgyzstan, who stressed the importance of labour and management dialogue in developing a stronger textile and garment industry. Participants were updated on the TechnoPark project, which aims to increase the industry’s production capacities to attract global brand to Kyrgyzstan.

“Before big brands move into Kyrgyzstan, it is important for textile and garment workers to understand how the supply chain works and the value that unions bring to improving working conditions,” said Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL’s textile and garment director.

Vadim Borisov informed the participants about IndustriALL’s structures and activities and gave a picture of IndustriALL’s plans in the region. “Our cooperation with the Textile Workers’ Union of Kyrgyzstan will be a base to attract other textile unions in the region,” said Borisov.

Trade union leaders from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan also reported on the differences in working conditions between workers employed at employer-owned enterprises and those at rented factories. Employers at rented enterprises do not see any point in improving working conditions, such as better ventilation or air conditioning.  

IndustriALL plans to run a range of training on methods on mobilizing union members and attracting new members into the union.