Address to the Committee on Application of Standards - 102nd Session of the International Labour Conference
Anna Wolanska, Poland, Workers' Group
CAS, Belarus, Convention 87

Members of the Committee,

Once again the Government of Belarus is asked by the Committee of Experts to clarify the issues related to non-observation of the Convention 87. Again and again is asked to provide information about activities undertaken in this regard. These requests are fully justified as the Experts concluded that no progress has been made by the Government of Belarus towards implementing of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry and improving the application of Convention 87 in law and in practice.

With regret I must inform you that in addition to already noted cases of violations of workers' and trade union rights at Granit, Kupalinka, Deltastyle companies, the new cases were reported at: Traktors and Parts Components Company in Bobruisk, Polotsk Fibre Glass, Polotsk wine rafinery, Mozyr Oil Rafinery, and many others.

Despite its denials, the Government continues to apply measures against the independent trade unions in above mentioned companies through different forms of anti-union discrimination: denial to register the independent unions by national and local authorities, harassment and dismissal new union leaders and activists, interference in the union activities, excluding the independent trade unions from collective bargaining process, pressure on members to leave the independent trade unions under the threat of non-renewal their contracts or short-term contract system, denying the right to run meetings and manifestations, prosecuting trade union leaders under criminal pretexts.

Workers and members of the independent trade unions are not only deprived from exercising the right of freedom of association. What's more, the existing legislation is used against them. For example:

Newly set up independent union at Granit Company in Mikashevichi was not able to be registered because the management had refused to provide the legal address on basis of the Decree No 2. Leaders of this union have been dismissed on basis of the provisions of the Labour Code. The claims demanding the reinstatement of these leaders at their workplaces have been rejected by courts of all instances. Also the witness who gave evidences against shop supervisor during hearings in the court has been illegally fired, again on the basis of the Labour Code.

Still existing requirement of legal address and 10 % minimum membership is one of the main obstacles for the independent trade unions to act freely. Reviewing the reports of the Committee of Experts from last years and statements of the Government of Belarus on developments and progress achieved in implementation of the recommendations of Commission of Inquiry I can only conclude that for many years no concrete, effective measures have been taken. In the information provided by the Government to this Committee is nothing new, expcept another declaration of what could be done. We have also heard many times the Government's commitment to social dialogue, but for us these declarations are empty and alone in no way improve the situation of workers and independent trade unions. We expect that the Government's declarations will finally be reflected in concrete actions.

According to the reports of Committee of Experts and ILO, freedom of association cannot be fully exercised in a context in which civil liberties are not respected. Workers are strongly convinced that the Government of Belarus should first of all introduce the system which guarantees civil liberties for all and will respect them. This will translate into the legal guarantees for right of freedom of association and others.

We urge the Government of Belarus to fully and without any delay implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, not only orally, but through concrete actions.

We will continue international pressure as long as the Government fails to comply with its international obligations, acting against its society, workers and independent trade unions.