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New Kyrgyz trade union law must be revoked

8 April, 2021IndustriALL, together with ITUC and other global unions, support Kyrgyz unions urging the President to veto the law on trade unions that would deprive workers of freedom of association.

Trade unions in Kyrgyzstan have rallied in front of the presidential administration building since the beginning of April. On April 6, a union delegation met the deputy head of the presidential administration and the heads of several administration departments to voice concerns over the law on trade unions.


The law was approved by Kyrgyzstan’s parliament in the third reading on 31 March, despite objections over the past two years by international organizations, including IndustriALL, the ITUC, the ILO and the UN, as it is in contravention of the national constitution and ILO Conventions 87 and 98, ratified by Kyrgyzstan.

If signed by the President, this law would seriously undermine freedom of association in Kyrgyzstan and deprive unions of their independence.

All unions in the country would fall under the total control of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan. All sectoral unions’ chairs will be appointed and dismissed by the FTUK chair, and union charters would be subject to FTUK’s approval. Workers would be deprived of the possibility to create another union confederation, as the Law on Trade Unions specifies the FTUK as the only social partner.

These and other provisions of the proposed law contradict to Kyrgyzstan’s constitution and ILO Conventions 87 and 98, according to which workers are guaranteed the right to establish and join organizations of their own choosing without previous authorization; and trade unions shall have the right to draw up their charters, to elect their representatives in full freedom, to organize their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes.

IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says:

“We call on the President to veto the law on trade unions, and at the same time urge that Kyrgyzstan seeks ILO technical expert advice and support in developing trade union legislation ensuring full compliance with international core labour standards and norms.”

IndustriALL and industriAll Europe are calling on the European Commission to intervene as compliance with ILO Conventions 87 and 98 are part of Kyrgyzstan’s GSP+ commitments and overall obligations to the ILO. Currently the Kyrgyz economy is benefiting from the trade preferences unilaterally offered by the European Union to Kyrgyzstan through the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+), in return for the implementation by Kyrgyzstan of 27 international conventions related to, inter alia, human rights, and labour rights.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan says:

“While the world is suffering from a pandemic, instead of addressing real problems in society, the Kyrgyz parliament prefers to change the trade union law in violation of international norms and standards. This is incomprehensible and we urge the President to put an end to this nonsense and revoke the new union law.”

Support the trade union movement in Kyrgyzstan and send a letter to the President, urging him to veto the law on trade unions and to ensure full compliance of Kyrgyz legislation with ILO Conventions 87 and 98. A model letter is found below.