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Violation of trade union rights in Kyrgyzstan

25 October, 2023For several years, there has been a systematic campaign aimed at establishing state control over trade unions in Kyrgyzstan. Now, Kyrgyzstan’s secret service has visited the country’s union offices to seize the last ten years’ financial documents, in blatant contradiction of the Constitution of Kyrgyzstan and the ILO Conventions ratified by the country. 

According to the IndustriALL affiliates, the documents were seized as part of a criminal case against the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan. And anyone opposing would also be the subject of a criminal case.

There are concerns that the seized files will be tampered with, which could lead to criminal charges of “financial theft of union money.”

Unions in Kyrgyzstan believe the attacks are part of a scheme to remove union property. In an attempt to address this and to separate it from interference with freedom of association, unions are prepared to comply and to transfer trade union property such as sanatorium and resort places to the state, as it will be one less reason for authorities to interfere in union affairs. If, after this, the pressure on unions continues, it will be within the competence of the ILO and the global unions as violations of ILO Convention 87.

In 2021, MMTUK filed a case (ILO Complaint #3386) with the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association, exposing the systematic violations of trade union rights in the country, particularly the violation on freedom of association and the harassment of trade union leaders. But fundamental workers’ rights continue to be challenged in Kyrgyzstan.

In a letter to the ILO Director General, IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie is asking for an urgent intervention to prevent the liquidation of independent unions in Kyrgyzstan, given the extraordinary situation in the field of trade union rights and government interference in union affairs.

“The government of Kyrgyzstan needs to uphold its commitments and fully respect trade union and workers’ rights,” says Atle Høie. “Free, independent unions are cornerstones of a functioning society and as global unions we will voice our opposition and use our leverage to defend fundamental workers’ rights,”

says Atle Høie.

Photo credit: Flickr, Naika Lieva