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Kyrgyzstan must abandon anti-union draft law

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23 November, 2020On 18 November, Kyrgyz unions protested against a draft law on trade unions that, if adopted, would deprive workers of the freedom of association.

In a video statement, unions called on members of parliament to abandon the draft law and involve unions the discussions on legislative initiatives on trade union issues.

On 5 November, the draft law on unions passed a second reading in the parliament without consultation with unions. Its current provisions would deprive workers of freedom of association, in breach of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining, ratified by Kyrgyzstan.

If adopted, the principles of democracy and collegial decision-making would be abandoned. Unions would no longer be able to independently determine their organizational structure, conditions for the number of trade union members, the right to establish their own governing bodies and the terms of their election. The draft law would push the unions into a rigid framework.

According to MMTUK chair Eldar Tadjibaev, the anti-union draft law  threatens economy in Kyrgyzstan and consequently the jobs.

Eldar Tadjibaev, says that the adoption of the draft law may affect the participation of Kyrgyzstan in the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) programme. This gives Kyrgyz producers the right to export about six thousand commodity items to the EU at zero tariff rates with the annual export reaching US$ 100 million.

Since 2016, these trade preferences have been unilaterally offered by the EU to Kyrgyzstan in return for Kyrgyzstan’s implementation of 27 international conventions related to, inter alia, human and labour rights.

So far, 70,000 people have signed a petition against the draft law, and numerous objections have been sent to the country's leadership by ILO, global union federations and NGOs.

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary, is urging the Acting President of Kyrgyzstan as well as the parliament to reject the draft law without delay, and act in accordance with international labour conventions:

“We will call on the European Commission to review the current economic relationship with Kyrgyzstan in case the promotion of the draft law on trade unions continues, in breach of ILO conventions and without proper consultation with unions.”