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Kyrgyz unions oppose anti-union law

25 April, 2019IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Kyrgyzstan are demanding the  withdrawal of a draft law on trade unions, which significantly undermines independent trade unions.

The bill was submitted on 12 April for public discussion on the website of the Kyrgyz parliament. However, it was prepared without participation of trade union representatives and does not include any of their proposals.

If adopted the bill will severely restrict the rights of trade unions to independently determine their organizational structure, type of association, trade union membership, as well as the right to establish union leadership bodies, time-frames for their election, and other constraints. All these issues have so far been successfully regulated by trade union statutes.

Furthermore, according to the bill, all trade unions will have to be subordinate to the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan, which will be the only union association recognized as a social partner for the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic at the national level. Thus, all regional and sectoral trade unions will be structural units of the Federation, and no other trade union would be able to operate in the country.

Eldar Tadzhibaev, president of the Mining and Metallurgy Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan, said:

“Labour legislation in Kyrgyzstan has been under attack for over the past seven to eight years. There were attempts to abolish the law on labour protection, change the labour code and so on. This process is influenced by the IMF and other international structures that lobby for the liberalization of legislation in favour of business. The purpose of the new bill is to make unions obedient and then easily change labour laws. We are under attack from different sides, it is important for us to resist them.”

The bill is in clear violation of the ILO Conventions No. 87 on freedom of association, No. 98 on right to organize and collective bargaining, No. 144 on tripartite consultations to promote the implementation of international labour standards as well as the Constitution and the labour code of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Eldar Tadzhibaev, is a member of the working group, created to study and make suggestions on improving legislation on trade unions. The working group was officially established on 20 March 2019 by the order of Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, but has not yet begun work.

Almabubu Zharkynbaeva, president of the trade union of textile, light, paper and related sectors in the Kyrgyz Republic, said:

“About 70 per cent of Kyrgyz workers are in the informal economy. Parliamentarians represent the interests of the business community, so they are not interested in legalizing workers and try to weaken trade unions.”

Vadim Borisov, IndustriALL regional secretary, stated:

“IndustriALL Global Union will use international instruments to help our affiliates to withdraw this bill, which is harmful both to workers and their trade unions. The purpose of the bill is to put independent trade unions in Kyrgyzstan under strict control, while centralizing unions and depriving them of any independence at industry and enterprise.”