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Kyrgyzstan: New law on trade unions must comply with international labour standards

7 July, 2021Despite a veto by the President of a controversial law on trade unions, on 30 June the Kyrgyz parliament adopted a new law on trade unions with provisions that breach ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

The international labour movement was pleased to learn that after two years of struggle by Kyrgyz unions, backed by massive international solidarity support, the law on trade unions was vetoed by the President in May this year. The law would have seriously undermined freedom of association in Kyrgyzstan and deprived unions of their independence.

However, a new law on trade unions was hastily approved by parliament in the third reading on 30 June. While having a new structure and revised content, it still largely contradicts the Constitution of Kyrgyzstan and core international labour standards, including the ILO Conventions 87 and 98, ratified by Kyrgyzstan.

Parliament did not take into consideration the President’s numerous comments on the inconsistency of the vetoed law with the Constitution of the Kyrgyzstan and core international labour standards, and has included the same violating provisions in the new law. Parliament also ignored the demand to include representatives of other unions apart from the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan (FTUK) in the conciliation group to work on the revised version of the law.

The new law on trade unions states that the FTUK is the only social partner, giving it a monopoly, in clear violation of ILO Convention 87, as it deprives workers from creating another union confederation if workers choose to. The new law deprives unions of their independence by setting accountability to the government and employers, and puts all unions in the country under the total control of the FTUK. Trade unions would be deprived of the right to independently determine the organizational structure, forms and types of associations, the right to establish their own charters and governing bodies.

Moreover, the new law on trade unions is full of technical contradictions and discrepancies, which clearly shows a very low level of legal examination by its initiators.

In the letter to the President of Kyrgyzstan, IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says:

“We call on the President of Kyrgyzstan to veto the new law on trade unions, adopted by the parliament on 30 June, and urge Kyrgyzstan to make sure any further amendments to the trade union legislation be prepared with the genuine participation of independent unions to ensure full compliance with core international labour standards.”