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International and Russian trade union movement opposes the dissolution of ITUWA

30 January, 2018IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Russia issued a joint statement against the dissolution of the Interregional Trade Union "Workers Association" (ITUWA). The Russian trade union centres the Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), IndustriALL affiliates in the CIS region and global unions strongly oppose the court decision to dissolve ITUWA.

On 25 January, eight FNPR affiliates of IndustriALL issued a joint statement in connection with the recent decision by the Saint Petersburg city court on the dissolution of the ITUWA, due to allegations that the union is involved in politics and receives foreign funds. ITUWA is affiliated to both IndustriALL and the KTR.
In their statement, the unions noted that ITUWA is not an affiliate of the FNPR, and that their union structures compete with each other at the factory level.  Despite this, the unions declared that,

“The Saint Petersburg city court decision, in our opinion, not only blatantly violates the rights of workers and the trade unions representing their interests. It also moves the proper regulation of trade union activities in Russia out of national and international legal frameworks”.

“We call on all the branches of state authority of the country to restore justice, and we looking forward to the cancellation of the judgement made by the city court of Saint Petersburg by the Supreme court of the Russian Federation in order to provide genuine constitutional freedom for trade union activities for the trade union movement of Russia”.

The letter was sent to the State Duma, the Prosecutor's office, chairperson of the Supreme Court and the President of Russia.
The national trade union centres – FNPR and KTR - and the global union the International Trade Union Confederation published their own official statements on their websites. They believe that the decision may set a negative precedent and affect the trade union movement of Russia, and the rights and guarantees of workers. In addition, the KTR filed a complaint against the Russian Federation to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association.

IndustriALL affiliates in CIS countries also express solidarity support with ITUWA.

Tamaz Dolaberidze, president of the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia, wrote in his letter to Alexey Etmanov, president of ITUWA,

“Taking this decision, the court issued a death sentence to union independence. It is obvious that it is used for the artificial formation of public opinion”.

Mychailo Volynets, president of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, stated,

“We are deeply concerned that the Saint Petersburg city court satisfied the claim of the Prosecutor's office on the dissolution of ITUWA on 10 January. This is a gross violation of workers' rights to association, which are guaranteed by international legal standards, including ILO Convention No. 87 on freedom of association.”

Gennady Fedynich, president of the Belarusian Radio and Electronic Industry Workers' Union (REPAM), noted,

“Our union is almost in a similar situation. Authoritarian regimes in Russia and Belarus seek the liquidation of trade union organizations that really protect the rights of working people and don’t depend on government bodies”.

Eldar Tadjibayev, president of the Mining and Metallurgy Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan (MMTUK), said,

“MMTUK fully supports ITUWA’s position, considering that this trade union is one of the most independent, powerful, principled and influential representative bodies of the employees”.

In its turn, ITUWA has launched a campaign for freedom of association, against the ban of trade union activities. ITUWA’s activists, factory and enterprise workers from Saint Petersburg, Vsevolozhsk, Moscow, Kaluga, Togliatti, Omsk and other cities, expressed their support of their union in numerous videos spread through social networks.

ITUWA will appeal to the Supreme Court of Russia this week and will prepare itself for further trials.

Vadim Borisov, IndustriALL regional secretary commented,

“IndustriALL Global Union is concerned about the development of events and expresses support for all legitimate actions of trade unions in defense of their rights. We appreciate the unity in the region around freedom of association and trade union rights shown by our affiliates.”