Belarus: ILO and UN Human Rights Council speak out

The ITUC has welcomed an International Labour Organization (ILO) Committee on Freedom of Association report that calls the Belarus government to account over serious violations of workers’ rights, including freedom of association and the right to strike.

The recommendations of an ILO Commission of Inquiry in 2004 have largely been ignored by the government, which is continuing its campaign of anti-union repression after working people rejected the falsified election results through which Alexander Lukashenko retained power last August.

Repression of the independent trade union movement in Belarus has continued unabated, with:

  • union representatives detained;
  • union offices raided;
  • threats against protesting workers;
  • and the confirmation by an appeals court of prison sentences of up to three years against three former employees of the Belarusian Metallurgical Plant (BMZ): Alexander Bobrov, Igor Povarov and Evgeny Govor for supporting strike action and protests.

Police have been forcing unions to hand over personal information about their members, causing serious concern about action against people who have exercised their right to join a union.

The UN Human Rights Council also adopted a strong resolution on the repression of human rights, including freedom of association, in Belarus.

Several countries with the support of the EU have now launched a Belarus Accountability Platform, to track and document human rights violations in the country.

“The focus of the ILO and other UN bodies on Belarus is extremely important, and the moves to document violations and those responsible will mean transparency and the basis for human rights violators to be held to account,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

“The government has failed to implement key recommendations of the ILO Commission of Inquiry and is now intensifying its suppression of freedom of association. We will be raising this at the ILO Conference in June and looking at other steps to ensure that Belarus complies with its obligations. The ITUC stands with our sisters and brothers in the BKDP and will continue to organise international solidarity for their fundamental rights,” added Sharan Burrow.