Jump to main content
IndustriALL logotype

Organizing leads to massive increase of the union membership in Kyrgyzstan

21 September, 2016IndustriALL Kyrgyz affiliate the Mining and Metallurgy Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan (MMTUK) has recruited 12,000 workers since 2008 by taking a targeted approach to organizing, almost tripling membership from 8,000 to 20,000.

This and other issues were subjects of discussion at the workshop on organizing held by IndustriALL Global Union on 6-7 September in the hotel Dostuk in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Union leaders and activists of the Altynken mining company and trade union organizations of geology took part in the workshop.

Regarding the particular example of - Altynken 60 per cent of which is owned by Chinese investors and 40 per cent by the state company Kyrgyzaltyn - the participants learnt that no single approach exists to motivate all employees. Each group of workers has their own interests, that must be considered when preparing trade union action. Lack of information on what exactly people are doing in the company is also a source of social tension. Therefore it is up to both the union and the employer to inform the employees as much as possible about what is happening in the company and what the plans for the future are.

Kyrgyzstan is one of IndustriALL’s priority countries in the region for organizing. The MMTUK membership growth became possible thanks to the merger of the organization with the Trade Union of Geology and active organizing activities through the creation of new primary organizations and the mobilization of union members.

Activists from Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Russia took part in the workshop and shared their experience about their approach to organizing in conditions when employers are reluctant to start social dialogue or completely reject it. The general trend in the countries of the region is characterized by the introduction of changes to labour legislation, generally undermining workers’ and trade union rights. Often it is impossible to defend workers’ rights with the tools provided by domestic legislation. This situation leads to labour protests expressed in non-union forms going beyond the legal frames. In addition to weakened trade unions, it leads to labour protests getting out of control and increasingly taking wildcat forms.

"For the first time we organized the workshop to exchange experience between trade union organizers from different countries and discussed those issues of the union's work which usually are kept behind the scenes.  IndustriALL doesn't supply lecture material any more. Often such supply has nothing to do with the daily work of trade union activists and leaders. We run our classes in active forms. And we'll continue the learning projects with our affiliates", summarized Vadim Borisov, IndustriALL regional secretary.