Afghanistan: Government Must Cease Anti-Union Campaign

The ITUC has called on the government of Afghanistan to cease harassment and intimidation of the National Union of Afghanistan Workers and Employees (NUAWE) and to uphold its obligations to respect freedom of association.

NUAWE property in Kabul and 28 regional offices of the trade union centre were raided by armed police and military on 8 April, and on 21 April security forces invaded the NUAWE headquarters. On Monday 14 May, the police once again raided and sealed the offices. Union members have been engaged in non-violent resistance to protect the union premises, and the organisation has filed a court case to seek protection under guarantees enshrined in the country’s constitution. The government has so far ignored the court proceedings and continued its anti-union actions. It has also instructed the Justice Ministry to cancel the NUAWE’s registration unless it hands over its legally acquired property to the government, and has disrupted a planning meeting at the union offices on 26 March. The government has not responded to NUAWE requests for dialogue.

“The government’s attempts to take control of NUAWE premises would render the organisation’s activities to organise and represent working people extremely difficult if not impossible. We call on the government to cease the intimidation and use of armed force, which constitute serious violations of Afghanistan’s obligations to respect fundamental workers’ rights as a member of the International Labour Organization,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The most recent violations by the government have been referred by the NUAWE and the ITUC to the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association.