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Interim win against Kyrgyzstan’s anti-union draft law

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12 March, 2021Kyrgyzstan’s parliament has postponed the third reading of the anti-union draft law, as a result of the Kyrgyz unions’ fight with international solidarity campaign. But the struggle will only be over once the draft law is wholly abandoned.

Together with other global union federations, IndustriALL launched a LabourStart campaign in November 2020 to support the demands of Kyrgyz unions. With a broad, worldwide support base, the campaign showed the Kyrgyz authorities the international community’s concern for Kyrgyzstan’s democratic union movement.

The draft law is in breach of ILO Conventions 87 and 98, ratified by Kyrgyzstan. If adopted, the draft law would deprive workers of freedom of association and unions of independence by significantly restricting union activities, dictating internal structures and putting unions under state control.

The anti-union draft law is being pushed by the ex-chair of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan (FTUK), who was dismissed in February 2020, but has refused to resign and held a fake election in December 2020, proclaiming himself the chair.

Eldar Tadjibaev, chair of the Mining and Metallurgy Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan, says that personal interests are behind the draft law that violates freedom of association by giving absolute power to the chair of FTUK. The law would complicate the procedure for electing and removing the chair, and would put all unions in the country under FTUK^s total control in terms of staff, finances and information.

The draft law also threatens economy of Kyrgyzstan, as the country may lose trade preferences granted by the European Union in return for implementation of core international conventions, including the ones related to labour rights.

“IndustriALL stands in solidarity with and offer our full support to unions in Kyrgyzstan. We urge authorities to immediately reject the draft law on trade unions, which is in breach of international conventions and would have serious consequences for the labour movement,”

says Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union.