Belarusian Congress Of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP)
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BELARUSIAN CONGRESS
OF DEMOCRATIC TRADE UNIONS

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Belarusian Congress Of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP)
Belarusian Independent Union (BNP) Free Metalworkers' Union (SPM)
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BKDP again calls on officials to cease pressure on independent unions



Today December 10, 2008 the BKDP at its regular Council meeting has adopted a Statement blaming the ongoing policy of pressure, intimidation and provocations against the democratic national trade union center.


Statement

of Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions

The gone into history the year of 2007 has become a kind of a landmark in the longstanding confrontation between the Belarusian officials and the independent trade union movement of the country. The lengthy pressure, blackmailing, threats and persecutions imposed by the regime on independent workers’ organizations and their members have become a complete failure. The BKDP and its affiliates not only have survived during all this time of struggle but they have become stronger both structurally and ideologically. The regime for the last 13 years have received a deserving rebuff and had to retreat and start finally to implement the ILO recommendations on respecting trade union rights.

Nevertheless, the ending of the last year showed again that the government did not profit from the received lesson. Instead of making further steps on implementing ILO recommendations the officials have chosen the policy of pressure, intimidation and provocations which became traditional in relationship between the regime and the democratic unions.

December 6, 2007 at nearly 8 o’clock p.m. a group of persons some of them dressed in civilian clothes and some of them in police uniform have made a raid against the BKDP head-quarters. For three hours they have been searching the rooms and at the end they have arrested three young union activists and have seized the multi-functional digital printing system (Risograph). A couple of days later Nikolai Sergeenko, the BKDP young activist, was sentenced to 10 days of imprisonment.

It is senseless to make speculations on what the reason might have been which has made the officials commit provoking and straightforward violation of the Constitution, laws of the country and the ILO Conventions that insure legal protection of trade union activities and their premises. The logics of the police actions can be compared with the logics of those people who wishing to extinguish a fire have decided to use gasoline instead of water. The existing conflict between the Government of Belarus on the one hand and the ILO and the European Union on the other cannot be settled by such provocative actions. On the contrary, there is a fair chance for the conflict to be further escalated with certain undesirable consequences.

One month passed but the wisdom did not triumph and those guilty were not instituted to any liability; the printing machine was not returned to the BKDP. We have to warn once again those who used to build up relations with us on the basis of permissiveness, arbitrary acts and lawlessness: they will answer for it and pay for it. While the going is good for now, we are calling on you to come to your senses and take measures on improving the situation as quickly as it can be otherwise a new conflict may appear on the international arena.

We address those officials to whom the existence and the activities of the Free Metalworkers’ Union (SPM, one of the BKDP affiliate) give no peace. We address those who qualify our organization as a test site or as a target and annually subject the organization to a kind of execution in the form of endless verifications of its membership by numerous juridical bodies. The last such a verification was implemented at the end of the last year and was accompanied by the letter from the Ministry of Justice informing about substitution of status of the above union from the republican (national) to territorial (local) one. We call on all of them to listen to the voice of reason.

The authors of the letter once again preferred to keep their yeas closed so as not to see that till today it is quite dangerous in many SPM affiliates to be legally mentioned in the membership lists and to pay dues through the “check off-system”. Under the circumstances of the short-term contract labor in Belarus the workers are running a risk to loose their jobs. It is hard to believe that the authorities are not aware of that and each such verification causes a new wave of repressions against the workers who are courageous enough openly to declare about his or her affiliation with the SPM. It must be clear, that the SPM now deliberately wants to shield its members from the risk of political persecutions and has switched over mainly to a method of hand-collected trade union dues. Such an operation goes in line with the local legislation.

We warn the too zealous “guardians of the law” who went too far in their hunt for the SPM. The union had before, it has now and it will have in future the status of the republican union (national) weather somebody likes it or not even if the officials will try to change it through the court!

We declare with responsibility, that no matter what the circumstances are the union will be recognized as a republican union not only by us but by the world trade union community as well.

Once again we call on the Government to express their unbiased assessment of the actions executed by the people who prefer violence and permissiveness to social peace and consensus, who is now ready seriously to compound the situation and add tension to the relations between the Government and the ILO and European Union and to put the country before the threat of further economic sanctions because of violation of trade union rights. The beginning of the New Year is the best time to think over the conduct and acts and of their consequences that might be!

Council of BKDP

10.01.2008




11.01.2008





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