Belarusian Congress Of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP)
Trade Union Association
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)
Belarusian Free Trade Union (SPB) Belarusian trade Union of workers of radio electronic industry (REP)
>БКДП-ЧЛЕН МЕЖДУНАРОДНОЙ КОНФЕДЕРАЦИИ ПРОФСОЮЗОВ (МКП)

BKDP-Member of International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC)
   


BKDP IS READY TO FACE NEW CHALLENGES OF TIME



The VII BKDP convention which took place December 11 2008 showed that after hard 15 years of establishment and internal development processes the national union has acquired certain degree of maturity of a really strong organization fully capable under the law. The BKDP is recognized and its opinion is regarded in the country and outside it. The independent national union center is ready to face new challenges of time.


74 delegates from across the country participated in the convention. They represented all BKDP affiliates: Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BNP), Belarusian Free Trade Union (SPB) and Free Metalworkers’ Union (SPM) as well as other 20 union activists and veterans of the union movement. The leaders of Belarusian Union of Workers in Radio and Electronic Industry (REP) were invited as guests of the convention.

A good number of countries sent their representatives to the forum. There were guests from Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany as well as representatives of the international organizations: International Labor Organization (ILO), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Pan European Regional Council (PERC), Baltic Sea Trade Union Network (BASTUN), IUF and Fridrich Ebert Foundation (FES). All they addressed the delegates with greetings on behalf of their unions.

The greetings also came from the leaders of Russian FNPR, Ukrainian KVPU, Polish OPZZ, USA AFL-CIO and the Danish LO. The amazement was caused in the conference room by a letter of Chairperson of the state controlled Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FPB) Leonid Kozik in which he wished the delegates successful work and adoption of balanced decisions.

The forum was chaired by the head of the BKDP Women’s Network Irina Zyl, a chairperson of the potassium processing plant at Soligorsk mines. After the convention was over the delegates evaluated her work as successful. It has proved once again that the efforts of BKDP in “gender direction” were not in vein.

The time of this convention coincided with the 15th anniversary of the foundation of the union. Exactly in December 1993 at time of historic transformations in the country the free and independent unions decided to unite. In his report the BKDP Chairperson Alexander Yaroshuk recalled former leaders of BKDP who have had contributed a lot to its establishment and development. On the occasion of the 15th BKDP anniversary the Certificates of Merit were handed over to former leaders and activists Gennady Bykov, Nikolai Zimin, Nikolai Novik, Viktor Troshchiy, Ivan Svyatokho, Alexander Dovnar, Sergey Lipnitski, The delegates and guests held the moment of silence in memory of Ivan Yourgevich the founder of independent union movement in Belarus.

“Looking back at the way gone through we note its major outcome: today the BKDP as an organization and as a national union centre corresponds to the requirements qualifying for a union. The BKDP had to overcome many difficulties and trials for the passed years and it managed to withstand. We have something to be proud of as there are a good number of things that have been done in advocating rights and interests of our union members and of all working people of the country. The results of BKDP activities for a three year period speak for themselves, -- said Alexander Yaroshuk. He underlined that the most important problem was solved. The BKDP was reinstated in the tripartite National Council for Labor and Social Issues (CLSI). “It is our serious victory. The BKDP was recognized by the Government and it has become a party of negotiating and signing the General Agreement between Government, employers’ and workers’ organizations. Our representatives today are the members of the Working Group preparing General Agreement for the period of 2009-2010. Such victories contribute to confidence building in people, rank-and-file members and trade union activists. They confirm the truth that there is always a sense to wage struggle even if chances for success are minimal or are illusory at all, -- underlined Alexander Yaroshuk.

Apart from that, the BKDP leader noted that in the passed period the BKDP has become a recognized member of the world trade union family. Two years ago our national union was one of the founders of the newly created international organization – International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) – which was formed by merger with the World Confederation of Labor (WCL). In March last year the BKDP participated in setting up of the Pan European Regional Council (PERC), first continental trade union organization unifyingall national union centers affiliated with the ITUC. Since last August the BKDP has been a partner organization in the influential international structure called BASTUN – Baltic Sea Trade Union Network.

The BKDP Deputy chairperson Nikolai Kanakh in his report presented the information on the most significant activities that the BKDP had implemented within the framework of educational programs for rank-and-file members and union leaders, on activities during the trips to friendly unions outside the country. These visits had the aim to exchange experience and improve information work.

Each of the delegates had a chance to speak, to evaluate the work of the BKDP leadership and present critical remarks. The majority of speakers evaluated the work of the leadership of BKDP as satisfactory. At the same time they pointed out to some key issues the BKDP leaders should pay special attention to. So that the membership of the BKDP could be prevented from decreasing the major work should be concentrated in primary organizations and in the regions. This problem was raised by the BNP member at “Polimir” Nina Turchina. She said “We should not tolerate the situation when the independent unions loose their members, professional staff as well as their loyalty to the ideas of independent union movement…. This issue should be the first one on the agenda”.

The representative of BKDP youth section Oleg Korban presented information on how young people are attracted to the independent unions. For the last one and a half years nearly 300 young people have affiliated with the Free Metalworkers’Union and the Belarusian Free Union. He expressed the wish of unionized young people that the BKDP youth section is to be organizationally formed as soon as it can be possible and become a part of the ITUC and PERC trade union youth networks.

Many delegates and guests talked about affiliation of REP union with the BKDP. They were unanimous that this event should take place shortly. “We hope that very soon on our banner together with our three unions’ brand images we shall see one more belonging to REP union” – noted in his speech Ivan Perminov, Chairperson of Independent Miners’ Union (NPG).

The REP union leader Gennady Fedynich addressed the delegates of the convention and red out the statement of REP Council. In it he wished the delegates fruitful work and solution of all internal problems.

The results of the BKDP activities against violations of trade union rights were highly appreciated by Dimitrina Dimitrova, the ILO representative. In her greeting she noted that the ILO will keep on supporting the efforts of the BKDP “now and in the future”. She also noted that the most important task of the Belarus Government is to implement 12 recommendations of the ILO. The ILO representative hopes that in January 2009 at the tripartite workshop that will take place in Mink, the concrete steps will be voiced by the Government.

Boris Kravchenko, President of All-Russia Confederation of Labor, noted that since last convention the BKDP has significantly strengthened its position and became an efficient organization in advocating basic trade union rights not only in Belarus but in the CIS too.

Slawomir Adamczyk from Polish “Solidarnosc”Union in his address to the delegates proposed to set up cross-border trade union cooperation of affiliates belonging to both national centers. That would be a good contribution to the development of general cooperation fixed in the Declaration signed between BKDP and Polish “Solidarnosc”Union .

Andre Mrost, the ITUC representative, is convinced that the major achievement of the BKDP which despite hard circumstances managed to function as a trade union organization and did not allow anybody to push it into the political field and become an object of political manipulations. Andre Mrost underlined the necessity of reforming the BKDP in conformity with the sectoral principles of building up unions.

Alexander Mikailov, the FNPR representative noted the active and offensive policy of the BKDP in dealings with employers. Exactly such position gave recognition and respect to the independent union center not only inside the country but outside it as well.

The delegates gave their vote of confidence to the BKDP leadership which was in force last three years. Alexander Yaroshuk for the third period by secret ballot has been elected as BKDP Chairperson on non-alternative basis. The voting results were as follows: 72 delegates said “Yes” in favor of A.Yaroshuk and 2 said “No”. For the position of the Deputy Chairperson there were two nominees: Nikolai Kanakh – the functioning BKDP Deputy and the chairperson of the BNP primary-level organization at OAO “GrodnoAzot” Sergey Antusevich. The delegates voted for Nikolai Kanakh (50 votes) and S.Antusevich received 24 votes. The delegates elected the auditing committee.

The finishing stroke of the convention was the adoption of the convention ruling and several resolutions and statements. Among them were: resolution on “Trade union unity, statements “On further dialogue with Government”, “For just and fair privatization”, “For decent work” and “On BKDP position towards economic crisis”.

Presenting program of further actions the leader of BKDP Alexander Yaroshuk noted that“ it would be reasonable not to have illusions concerning the “cloudless future” but better get the organization ready for further hardships and trials. ” One of the major tasks should be the growth of union membership. “We should go on with educational and training programs, train leaders, make the BKDP image attractive through the work with women and youth.

It is of vital importance to expand information activities. We should make the platform wider for social partnership so that all registered union organizations could have collective agreements and the branch unions – national tariff agreements” said the leader of the BKDP.

Alexander Yaroshuk believes that there is a necessity to gain the competitiveness of the BKDP affiliates in the trade union field. “The basis is available for it. According to the independent sociological surveys more than one third of the country’s population has trust in democratic trade unions. We regard this trust as an advance for us. Nevertheless, the rating of independent unions is much higher than that of our opponents who have greater facilities for their activities at their disposal. We should value this trust and should confirm it by our decisive fighting for the rights and interests of all the workers in the country.” -- underlined the union leader.

“The important challenge for the BKDP is further development of dialogue with the Government. We should positively appreciate its political will that led to the first steps in restoring our rights. The recent example is the return of the preferential rent payment for the independent unions. Nevertheless we expect next steps of the Government in implementation of the ILO recommendations. Only in such case we can count on resolving the common problem concerning the return the trade preferences back to the country.” said Alexander Yaroshuk.

The concluding words of the leader of independent unions sounded optimistically:” This Convention draws a line under the 15 year old period. What the next 15 years will be and what they will bring will be decided today. The tomorrow of the independent trade union movement of the country will depend on how well defined and correct the decisions and strategies will be chosen today. I believe that we shall be able to find worthy answers to new challenges of the time…”

Statement

of the 7th Convention of Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions

For Fair and Just Privatization!

The working people of are facing now new challenges and threats. Today we have encountered very closely the consequences of the world’s economic crisis. Most evident, that besides this challenge we will face serious social upheavals linked with the inevitable involvement of the country into the privatization process.

On behalf of the members of free and independent trade unions the BKDP calls on transparent and open privatization. It should not be implemented behind the closed doors without participation of workers in it and their interests should not be ignored.

We are convinced that the deliberate non-disclosure of information dealing with terms of sale and of the potential owners of our enterprises is a violation of the Constitution and laws of the country. The non-transparency and closed manner are the direct prerequisites for corruption and crimes.

We call on presenting business-plans, organization of open and transparent tenders when selling enterprises and insist on inclusion of our representatives into the sale commissions.

The preconditions of preserving working places and social guaranties should become obligatory for the new owners.

We are addressing all the workers, all our union members and activists and those not affiliated with the BKDP.

Dear friends! We are approaching one of the most crucial moments in our life. Our fortune and the fortune of our families, children and grand children for dozens of years ahead depend on our position in privatization process.

Being aware of a severe and inevitable necessity of starting privatization, nevertheless, the BKDP, as a national independent union centre, does not go against it. The change of company owners seams for the workers as kind of new challenges and at the same time as new opportunities too. The vivid proof of that are monthly salaries and wages of people working in economy governed by the state. These salaries hardly exceed 400 USD whereas in they amount nearly to 700 USD, in – 1000 USD and in - 1400 USD.

Nevertheless, the workers should always bear in mind that any company owner, weather it is a state owner or a private one, will never put the interests of workers above his own. They always will be trying to exploit the workers. Therefore, no matter what the owner is or how important the situation may seam (like privatization) one can hardly find any other instrument but trade unions to protect workers’ rights.

You should bear in your mind that only joining real independent unions will give us chance to achieve our goals and will not allow the privatization to be turned into another robbery and be implemented at the expense of the workers.

Remember and be aware that a real independent workers’ organization is available in this country- it is the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Union (BKDP). It persistently and steadily protects your rights and interests and all the time is ready to assist you in your struggle. These slogans should become basic and common for all of us:

Do not let our country be sold off and looted!

Uphold jointly just and fair privatization; not few individuals but entire Belarusian

people should benefit from it!

We shall win if we stay together!!!

Minsk , 11 December 2008

Statement

of the 7th Convention of Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions

On decent work and short-term labor contracts

The Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) consistently and steadily advocates the right of all workers of the country for decent work. It urges the Government to change radically its social and economic policy which adjudges considerable number of workers and their families to life in poverty and misery.

Is the size of salaries and wages of many of you today sufficient for decent living when it is less than 400 USD a month? Certainly no! The image of the Belarus Government “which is tireless in taking care of an ordinary worker” being formed by the official mass media, has little to do with the reality.

But hard reality is such that the incomes of workers cannot ensure the constitutional right for decent work and life. The growing prices and galloping inflation make the basic goods not purchasable for many of the workers.

Almost all the workers in are transferred to short-term labor contracts. Keeping workers “on a short leash” the authorities deprive the employees of their confidence in their future. They deny the opportunities for workers to demand fair wages and safe and healthy conditions at workplaces as well as to respect their own dignity. The BKDP is steady in its fighting for abolishment of slavery-like short-term contracts and calls on all people to defend their rights together with independent unions.

The Belarus Government has adopted a plan for privatization for the near future. The independent unions stand for open and transparent privatization and demand decisively from Government and new owners to preserve working places and ensure social guaranties. The BKDP does everything so as the privatization could not be turned into another robbery and was not implemented at the expence of workers and, in the long run, could not discredit the right of workers for decent work.

The Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions calls on all working people of the country to come together for protecting their rights and interests.

Join the independent unions! Our common slogans will be:

“We have right for decent work!”

“Increase salaries before raising prices!”

“Say NO to forced short-term contracts!”

“Do not let the country be sold off and looted!”

Minsk, 11 December, 2008

Statement

of the 7th Convention of Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions

On BKDP position in relation to economic crisis

The world’s economic crisis becomes a global one. Most of experts predict that the crisis will be deepening and changing not only market structure but the whole world economy in general and the social and economic situations in each separate country in particular.

As per ILO data the number of unemployed people across the world will grow up to 20 million by the end of 2009 as compared with the figures of the 2007. The latest developments in the world, drastic drop down of world prices on oil and metals, decrease of output production not only in raw material sectors but in most of the world economy sectors confirm these predictions.

The Belarusian economy is an inseparable part of the world economic system. Despite the bravura statements of the state authorities on so called “islands of stability”, has already faced with the impacts of the financial and economic crisis. These consequences will be especially harmful because of non-market and centrally planned and governed economy in the country.

Therefore, the policy of the state regime which does not publicly recognize the availability of recession trends and taking no measures to resist them cannot be accepted as a responsible policy. It is quite inadmissible that the Government and the company managers are trying to shuffle off the entire burden of all economic problems on workers’ shoulders. The voluntary- forced transfer of all employed people on to a reduced working day which leads to reduction of wages as well as making workers take unpaid holidays is gaining a large-scale character. More often the bonus and premium payments which make up a sufficient part of workers wages are either reduced or withdrawn from salary and wage funds. The payment of salaries and wages as well social benefits are ether frozen or delayed for an uncertain period of time. According to the BKDP assessment more than half of enterprises and companies in employ measures to reduce salaries and wages.

Such “cutting cost” measures hundreds of thousands of workers are facing now with have already led or will lead to a serious decrease of their incomes. As a result of such “initiatives” and lack of actions on the part of the official bodies hundreds of thousands of citizens of the country have felt the decline in their living standards. The people begin to realize that something goes wrong in the economy despite the fact that the TV and mass media prefer not to dwell on economic recession issues at all.

In such situation a serious tension may start gradually be formed between the workers who constitute the majority of population on the one hand and the state authorities on the other.

The VII Convention of Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) calls on President and the Government of the country to realize the gravity of the current situation and initiate without any delay the working out the program of withdrawing the country from crisis, protection of workers and most vulnerable categories of population who are facing serious social upheavals due to negative crisis impacts. We urge that not only workers and pensioners are to pay proportionally their price for getting out of crisis but all the owners of institutions and enterprises of the financial and real sectors of economy including the state itself should do the same.

The full responsibility is to be assumed by each particular owner including the state for the results of their ownership functioning.

The wage policy is to be adopted which does not allow the incomes of workers to go down but it should ensure its steady increase in accordance with the plans of social and economic development of the country, General and Wage Agreements and company collective bargaining agreements. The wage policy is to be balanced by labor productivity increase and linked with state measures on supporting employment policy and creation of new workplaces.

The crisis should not become a pretext for mass redundancy, universal reduction of working day and week and cutting social programs. The task of the state at this stage is to strengthen control over compliance with the legislation in the sphere of labor relations and employment guaranties.

We call on all working people of the country to step up actions against serious deterioration of their living standards and reduction of jobs and decline of their incomes. Only when united we can make the enterprise managers and the Government adopt an efficient program which will resist the recession trends. You can also do it if you join the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions!

Let us at this hard time be together!

Minsk , 11 December, 2008

Statement

of the 7th Convention of Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions

On further development of dialogue with Government

The Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) positively evaluates the recent measures taken by the Government on implementation of the ILO recommendations and restoration of trade union rights. Among them is the return to the BKDP of its legitimate place in the tripartite National Council for Labor and Social Issues, reinstatement of one of the leaders of the dissolved by the Supreme Court the Belarusian Union of Air-traffic Controllers O. Dolbik at his former workplace as well as return of the preferential rent payment to the independent unions.

At the same time the BKDP convention notes that these were important but first steps in the direction of normalizing the situation. We call on the Government to keep moving on the way of further implementation of the ILO recommendations. The problem of abolishing the registration principle when setting up a union should be solved. Otherwise the trade union movement cannot be developed. It is important to hinder the path to interference in the internal affairs of the independent workers’ organizations and rigorously to suppress any attempts of imposing pressure on them and on their members. The rest illegally fired workers mentioned in the recommendations must be reinstated at their workplaces.

Only after all recommendations are implemented to the fullest extent it would become possible to claim the return of the EU GSP preferences back into the country. In such a case the BKDP is ready to lodge a petition in the respective international structures to initiate the procedure of returning the GSP preferences. We hope that our proposal will be heard and certain further actions on the part of the Government will be undertaken to restore the trade union rights. Such actions could favorably influence the situation in the sphere of social and labor relations and would promote bringing back onto the democratic way of development.

Minsk, 11 December, 2008

Resolution

of the 7th Convention of Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions

On trade union unity

The VII convention of Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) notes that the current situation in is characterized by essential changes taking place due to global processes impacts on it including economic and labor relation spheres. Under such conditions the necessity of strengthening trade union solidarity, united and consolidated actions by the democratic trade union movement with the aim to advocate workers’ rights and interests assumes special significance.

Under the circumstances of global financial instability and worsening of economic situation in the country the opponents of the independent trade union movement will always be trying to undermine unity and cohesion of the unionized workers, weaken their trade union organizations and split the ranks.

The experience of the BKDP fight in recent years for the restoration of its rights and workers’ interests convinced us in the necessity of strengthening the union movement. The BKDP affiliated organizations will go on rendering all possible solidarity support to each other. We shall be assisting those organizations which undertake resolute measures on protecting interests of their members, those which resist unfair employers and state authorities who are trying to impose pressure on independent workers’ organizations, to reduce social guaranties and labor cost, to worsen labor legislation and to trample down trade union rights.

The delegates of the VII BKDP Convention welcome the decision of the Belarusian Union of Workers in Radio and Electronic Industry (REP) to affiliate with the BKDP. We admit the importance and vital necessity of reunification of independent trade union movement of the country and creation of a united national centre of Belarusian democratic trade unions. We hope that the unification process of the BKDP and REP unions which have overcome the conceptual and organizational differences is a main trend in the further development of the independent union movement and will lead to a serious strengthening of its potential and building capacity and efficiency of the activities of all democratic unions.

Having brought our resources together as well as trained staff, expertise and protest potential we shall be able to gain a much qualitative improvement of our struggle for advocating social and economic interests and labor rights of the working people in the country.

In Unity is Our Force!

Minsk, 11 December, 2008

RULING

of the VII Convention of Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions

Having the reports of the BKDP Chairperson A.Yaroshuk and Chairperson of Auditing Commission S.Pavlovich heard and discussed the Convention gives the following ruling:

  1. To acknowledge the work done by BKDP for the period between December 2005 and December 2008 as satisfactory.
  2. To approve the Report of Auditing Commission.
  3. To regard as a major task of all trade union activists and rank-and-file- members the implementation of the strategy aimed at further development of the BKDP as the only independent union center available in the country which advocates the rights and interests of working people in Belarus.
  4. The Chairperson and the BKDP Council members are to focus their efforts on further development of social dialogue through participation in it of all BKDP structures. To use with maximum effect the membership and possibilities in the tripartite National Council on Labor and Social Issues for work out and sign the General Agreement between Government, employers and trade unions as well as wage agreements on national sectoral level.
  5. To continue the dialogue with the Government directed at further elimination of trade union rights violations in the country. Persistently to urge the Government to implement all ILO recommendations and, particularly, to abolish the procedure of obligatory registration of newly set up unions and to reinstate the illegitimately dismissed workers.
  6. Consistently to develop the international links of the BKDP. To implement steps on further development of mutually useful cooperation with international and national union organizations, on strengthening partner relations and signing cooperation agreements.

Minsk, 11 December, 2008




15.12.2008





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