5 – No guarantee of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Belarus

The ITUC affiliate in Belarus is the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP).

Decree No. 9 was signed into law by the President in December 2012. Accordingly, workers employed in wood processing enterprises cannot terminate their employment contracts without the consent of their employer. This means that up to 20,000 workers may be subjected to forced labour. Unions are also concerned that the scope of application of this decree might be extended to other sectors.

President Alexander Lukashenko, often referred to as Europe’s last dictator, was re-elected on 19 December 2010. Moreover, it has been reported that the parliamentary elections held in September 2012 were neither free nor impartial. Observers reported that several people voted dozens of times at different polling stations. Opposition parties also argued that the voter participation rate did not reach the required 50% threshold. Several opposition parties encouraged individuals to boycott boycott A collective refusal to buy or use the goods or services of an employer to express disapproval with its practices. Primary boycotts are used to put direct pressure on an employer, while a secondary boycott involves the refusal to deal with a neutral employer with the view of dissuading it from patronising the target employer. the election in protest and to force a new election. 15 opposition leaders remain imprisoned including former presidential candidate Nikolai Stankevich who was arrested after the 2010 election. Prior to the election in 2012, police and secret services detained and intimidated opposition activists and journalists. There were also arrests at picket lines and opposition candidates were censored in the media.

In practice

Browse by:

Independent trade union activity suppressed24-06-2015

The authorities desire to prevent any independent trade union activity was underlined by the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklos Haraszti. Speaking during the presentation of his latest report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 24 June 2015, Haraszti warned that the “systematic violation of human rights, in particular civil and political rights, continues.” He confirmed that labour rights continued to be denied, and independent labour unions were suppressed.
These views were echoed at a sub-regional meeting of IndustriALL’s affiliates in the CIS region in Moldova on 3 – 4 September. Union leaders from Belarus emphasised the urgent need for the Belorussian unions to get recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. of trade union rights and freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
. For several years, unions in Belarus were not allowed to organise events to celebrate 7 October, the World Day for Decent Work, since the state authorities had never approved their requests. (Unions were allowed to mark World Day for Decent Work Day in 2015, however). Union organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. as it works in other countries in the region is not possible in Belarus, the leaders emphasised. They also spoke about the vicious system of short-term employment contracts affecting the majority of workers, and about the recent legal reduction of notification of dismissal from one month to one week, making it easier to remove independent trade unionists.

Authorities seek to impose official unions in private enterprises30-06-2015

In late May 2015, at the Congress of the pro-government Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FTUB) held in Minsk, President Lukashenko ordered that (official) trade unions be established at all enterprises by mid-2016. At the beginning of June, he signed Decree No 4, which introduced amendments to Decree No 2 of 26 January 1999 regulating the activities of political parties, trade unions and other public associations. The decree aims to simplify the creation of trade unions at all enterprises, regardless of ownership.
According to an article that appeared in Belarus Infocus on 9 June 2015, “The main role of the FTUB is to control employees, ensure their integration and freeze protest activity among workers. De facto, official trade unions do not respond to significant deterioration of workers’ situation, including delays of wage payments, underemployment, reduced working hours and mass layoffs.” The FTUB represents about 90 per cent of the economically active population in Belarus – about four million people. However, the share of workers employed in the private sector has increased recently; hence, the authorities want to create official trade unions in private companies in order to have additional control mechanisms over the private sector, and stifle dissent.

Hunger strike workers in Belarus face jail:19-06-2015

Four metalworkers in Belarus, who went on a two-day hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
to bring public attention to their unfair dismissal, are now facing a fine or even jail. The desperate workers, who were employed by the Bobruisk Factory of Tractor Parts and Units (BZTDiA), were detained by police on 10 November 2014 while they were on hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, and accused of unauthorised public protest. The workers, who are all members of the Free trade Union of Belarus (SPB), disagree with the accusation of an unauthorised protest and say they are in fact victims of arbitrary dismissal for being unionists. In a company response dated 14 November, the factory director said the dismissals were due to the optimisation of the factory workforce and were not linked to their SPB membership. However, BZTDiA has been advertising for new workers with the same skills as the people who were fired. Workers wrote an open letter to the President of the Belarus last month, raising their concerns about how their factory is managed and the way in which the director was abusing the country’s short-term contract system to dismiss highly skilled professionals for being unionists. The government response was simply to endorse the company’s position. The system of short-term contracts and its use in persecution of trade union activists in Belarus has been heavily criticised by the international labour movement. It formed part of the complaint against violations of Freedom of Association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
submitted to the International Labour Organization International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
in 2000. Since then the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
has regularly considered the Belarusian case, noting little or no progress in implementing recommendations made by an ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Commission of Inquiry.

Anti-union discrimination09-02-2015

The company Babrujsk’s tractor parts and aggregates plant did not renew the fixed-term employment contracts of two members of the Free Trade Union of Belarus, Alyaksandr Varankin and Alyaksandr Hramyka, which came to an end in September 2014. Trade union representatives believe that the company is targeting active union members for non-renewal and takes these decisions disregarding skill levels and business needs. Both activists had participated in a hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in protest against discriminatory measures taken against trade unionists that took place in March 2014 and lasted for three days.

Union busting against oil refinery workers13-10-2013

Since 2008, the Mozyr Oil Refinery’s local union local union A local branch of a higher-level trade union such as a national union. , affiliated to the Belarusian Independent Trade Union, has been facing a harsh union-busting campaign from the site management.
Members of the union have regularly been victims of repression and biased disciplinary punishment based exclusively on their union affiliation. A third of the members (some 467 workers) were forced to withdraw their membership from the local union local union A local branch of a higher-level trade union such as a national union. . Mid 2013, 2 members of the local unions have been dismissed and 3 others have received notification letters that their contracts would not be renewed.

The management continuously refused to meet with trade union leaders.
On October 2013, union leaders also tried to meet with the owner of the Mozyr Oil Refinery’s, the Belarusian State Concern for Oil and Chemistry, Belneftekhim, one of the largest industrial complexes of the Republic of Belarus, without success.

De-registration of trade union and anti-union discrimination29-07-2013

The Borisov district executive council by its decision № 942 dated 29 July 2013 has illegally removed from the register the Borisov town primary-level union organisation affiliated to the Belarusian Radio-&-Electronic Industry Worker’ Union (REP) thus depriving the union of its official status and the possibility to carry out its activities. Borisov town council has justified its decision by making a reference to paragraph 24 of the Instructions № 48 adopted by the Ministry of Justice and dated 30 August, 2005.

The leaders of the regional structures of the Free Metalworkers’ Union (SPM) also are subjected to discrimination on the grounds of union affiliation. The pressure is imposed on them by KGB personnel. Not only are trade union activists threatened and persecuted but their relatives too. Such cases took place in May-June in Mogilev.

Arbitrary reasons against Viktor Stukov16-04-2013

In 2012 disciplinary actions have been taken on arbitrary reasons against Viktor Stukov, the chairperson of the SPB primary union at “Polotsk-Steklovolokno” Company. On 11 March, 2013 Viktor Stukov was dismissed allegedly for systematic and repeated failure to perform his employment duties despite his 29 years of employment service. Viktor Stukov was denied any claims (including reinstatement, payment of compensations and etc.) by the Polotsk district and town court decision dated 16 April 2013. The Vitebsk regional court has also failed to adequately address the complaint of Viktor Stukov.

Intervention in trade union activities31-07-2013

It has been reported that the Bobruisk tractor parts plant employer denied the Belarusian Free Trade Union (SPB) entry to the premises. For 6 months, Mikhail Kovalkov, who is the leader of the SPB has not been allowed to enter the workplace to meet with union members. SPB members are not allowed to use the company’s sports and fitness complex. However, the complex is available for use by all members affiliated to the official Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FPB). For a long period the employers of RUP “Bobruisk Tractor Parts and Components” Company have been discriminating against workers on the grounds of affiliation to the Belarusian Free Trade Union (SPB). The employer has illegally deprived the primary-level SPB union of its office and the negotiations on providing new premises as required by the collective agreement have failed. The leader of the union organisation, Mikhail Kovalkov, is not allowed to enter the company premises despite the decision of Bobruisk district and town court which obliged the employer to unblock his permanent pass to the company premises. The SPB rank-&-file members are subjected to permanent threats of dismissal with the aim of forcing them to leave the independent union independent union A trade union that is not affiliated to a national union. Can also be a union that is not dominated by an employer.

See yellow union

.

SPB members are deprived of the possibility of using the company medical rehabilitation centre or receiving bonuses and additional payments envisaged by the collective agreement. The employer, having asked the union to present confirmation of its representativeness, has practically excluded the SPB company union company union Can be used to describe either an enterprise union or a yellow union. from the collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
process and from signing the collective agreement. Moreover, the employer is actively blackmailing SPB members with threats of dismissal after the termination of their contracts if they remain members of the SPB union. So, for example, on 31 July, 2013 Dmitri Kurmaz – SPB member and a setup operator of the 5th category – was dismissed. The management of Bobruisk Tractor Parts and Components Company openly declared that the contract with the young worker will not be prolonged due to his affiliation to the independent union independent union A trade union that is not affiliated to a national union. Can also be a union that is not dominated by an employer.

See yellow union

.

Dismissed SPB member got reinstated 13-07-2013

The administration of Bobruisk Plant of Tractor Parts and Units refused to extend the contract for Sergey Pichugin, an SPB union member. The worker got reinstated after the BKDP leadership intervened by sending a personal letter to the enterprise director with the demand to prolong the worker’s contract.

Workers not permitted to picket20-07-2013

The Minsk City Executive Committee rejected the application of Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BNP) to hold a picket in Minsk on 20 July 2013. The event was planned in order to raise awareness around the amendments to the Law “On Professional Pension Insurance”, as well as amendments to the Labour Code adopted in the first reading by the National Assembly.

Anti-union discrimination13-08-2013

In Mikashevichi, employers and local authorities pressure members of the newly formed independent union independent union A trade union that is not affiliated to a national union. Can also be a union that is not dominated by an employer.

See yellow union

at RUPP “Granite” Company to leave the union. Union leaders are subjected to continuous harassment and denied legal redress. Oleg Stakhaevich, chairman of the independent union independent union A trade union that is not affiliated to a national union. Can also be a union that is not dominated by an employer.

See yellow union

, and his deputy, Nicholai Karyshev, were unlawfully dismissed.

In 2012, employers continued to harass members of the independent unions at “Belshina” Company in Bobruisk and OAO “Oil Refinery” in Mozyr. Members are forced to resign from their unions as their employers threaten to not extend their fixed term contracts or confirm their professional skills.

For the first time in the 20 year existence of the union, white collar workers were forced to resign from the Independent Union independent union A trade union that is not affiliated to a national union. Can also be a union that is not dominated by an employer.

See yellow union

of Miners (NPG) at OAO “Belaruskali” Company.

BKPD & affiliates denied permission to hold actions on May Day01-05-2012

The BKDP and its affiliates were denied permission to hold mass actions on Solidarity Day on 1 May 2012. However, the FPB union obtained permission to conduct trade union actions on Solidarity Day.

BKDP & REP prevented from holding May Day demonstrations in Minsk01-05-2013

On 1 May 2013, the Minsk City Executive Committee did not authorise the independent trade unions to hold demonstrations in Minsk on May 1. The authorities rejected the requests of the BKDP and the Radio and Electronics Workers Union (REP) under the pretext of that the squares in Minsk would be occupied by other public events on May 1.

Refusal to bargain in good faith01-01-2012

For over 18 months, the employer at OAO “Naftan” Oil refinery has refused to sign the collective agreement negotiated with the independent union independent union A trade union that is not affiliated to a national union. Can also be a union that is not dominated by an employer.

See yellow union

.

Intervention in trade union activities16-05-2013

On 24 February 2012, Alexander Yaroshuk, President of the BKDP and a member of the National Council on Labour and Social Affairs (NCLSI) was prevented from communicating violations of the rights of trade unions in Belarus. He was deliberately denied access to a room where the NCLSI hold their regular meetings.

On 16 May 2013, the Director of JSC “Polotsk-Steklovolokno” prevented Viktor Stukov, Chairman of the local trade union, from entering company premises. In violation of the law on trade unions the management has been refusing to issue a pass for the trade union leader for 2 months.

Independent unions still under pressure31-12-2011
Pro-union decision revoked30-10-2010

On 18 November 2008 the State commission for managing state-owned buildings took a decision to decrease tenfold the rent for public organisations, including all trade unions, compared to the rent for commercial organisations. Immediately afterwards, at the 303rd Session of the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Governing Body, the Vice-Prime Minister of Belarus V.Potupchik declared this was a measure to eliminate anti-union discrimination anti-union discrimination Any practice that disadvantages a worker or a group of workers on grounds of their past, current or prospective trade union membership, their legitimate trade union activities, or their use of trade union services. Can constitute dismissal, transfer, demotion, harassment and the like.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework

in the country.

However, on 23 October 2009, Presidential Decree No. 518 “On some issues related to renting and gratis using of state property” was issued and the State commission for managing state-owned buildings abolished. During 2010 when determining the rent payment, a 0.1 reduction factor could be applied to organisations in compliance with a list approved by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus and agreed to by the President.

On 5 November 2010 Presidential Decree No. 569 was issued, allowing all trade unions to use the 0.1 reduction factor when renting state property. The decree is set to come into force in February 2011.

ILO recommendations still not implemented, EU trade benefits are withdrawn31-12-2011

Since 21 June 2007, following the conclusions and recommendations of the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
, the Council of Ministers of the European Union has partially restricted the access of Belarus to the more favourable provisions of the EU GSP trade policy.
Despite the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Commission of Inquiry recommendations, as well as numerous conclusions by the Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) of the International Labour Conference (ILC) and of the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Governing Body, the Government of Belarus has so far failed to act constructively on the key recommendations and bring labour and trade union rights into line with international labour standards international labour standards Principles and norms related to labour matters, primarily codified in the Conventions and the Recommendations of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Include core labour rights such as freedom of association and the right to organise, the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike, which are all covered by ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

See ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
. The Action Plan for the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry that was prepared by the government in 2009 (see the 2010 edition of the Annual Survey) has given rise to more politically correct rhetoric and some cosmetic adjustments, but has failed to address the substance of the violations.

Any action on the part of the government, like restoring the preferential rate of the premises rented out to the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) in 2010, or allowing the possibility of signing national tariff and collective agreements, will not solve the problem of the true restoration of trade union rights in Belarus. The efforts made by the government were directed at technical issues rather than the substance of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry. This is clearly demonstrated by the continuing obstacles to registering newly created unions and by the pressure still imposed on members of independent unions, using the short-term contract system. The number of violations of trade union rights has been increasing. Members of trade unions affiliated to the BKDP are still suffering from anti-union discrimination anti-union discrimination Any practice that disadvantages a worker or a group of workers on grounds of their past, current or prospective trade union membership, their legitimate trade union activities, or their use of trade union services. Can constitute dismissal, transfer, demotion, harassment and the like.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework

, including dismissals and the non-renewal of employment contracts, pressure and harassment.

Improvements followed by renewed anti-union pressure30-11-2009

On 20 February, the tripartite National Council on Labour and Social Issues endorsed the government’s Action Plan for the implementation of the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Commission of Inquiry recommendations, and in April and May the Council for the Improvement of Legislation in the Social and Labour Sphere tried to find ways to move forward on issues such as the denial of trade union registration and anti-union dismissals. By the end of the first half of the year, independent trade unions were cautiously optimistic of the chances for renewed respect for trade union rights in the country.

The Government’s actions were, however, obstructed by the “traditional” Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FPB), an organisation with close ties to the authorities that could lose its domineering position if the standards on freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
were to be implemented properly. During the year, FPB lobbied for special privileges for “most representative” trade unions, disseminated instructions on company-level collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
that would get smaller trade unions side-lined, and “forgot” to extend an invitation to the tripartite National Council to other trade unions. Furthermore, the pressure against the independent (non-FPB) trade unions was renewed in July, and some of the earlier positive steps were reversed: on 23 October, President Lukashenko signed Ordinance No. 518, which disbanded the commission that returned deductions on the rent for trade union offices and meeting rooms to all trade unions, whilst extending the reduced rent only to the FPB and its organisations.

Anti-union harassment was also reported in different companies and regions. On 3 September, the Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) adopted a declaration asking the government to take urgent measures against recent anti-union campaigns, and announced its intention to leave the National Council on Labour and Social Issues if the government continued the policy of paying lip service to the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
while suppressing independent trade unions.

© ITUC-CSI-IGB 2013 | www.ituc-csi.org | Contact Design by Pixeleyes.be - maps: jVectorMap