In the capital of Kazakhstan, under the auspices of the International Labour Organization (ILO), within the framework of a two–day Regional conference for Central Asian trade unions: “Inclusiveness, sustainability and resilience – trade union policy to mitigate the consequences of the crisis”, the national trade union centers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan shared their experience, discussed measures to stabilize the social and labor sphere in the post-pandemic period and developed joint proposals for cooperation with ACTRAV/ILO.
Recall that on the eve of the conference, the participants got acquainted with the main aspects of the Global Call to Action for Recovery after the COVID-19 crisis, adopted by the International Labor Conference in June last year and provided information on the activities of national trade union centers of Central Asian countries during the pandemic to protect the rights and interests of workers.
On the final day of the regional trade union forum, the Head of the ACTRAV/ILO Europe and Central Asia Department, Sergeyus Glovackas, presented the ILO training manual for workers’ organizations “Overcoming Crises Arising from Conflicts and Natural Disasters” to the participants.
Speaking about the challenges facing the population of the Central Asian region, the speaker mentioned not only the difficult geopolitical situation, forced migration, but also natural disasters affecting the socio-economic processes in the Central Asian region.
“For example, more than 15 thousand refugees from Afghanistan have been accommodated in Tajikistan. It is noteworthy that the country’s trade unions provided and trained first aid skills. This is a good experience,” Sergeyus Glovackas said.
Continuing the topic, Gocha Alexandria, Senior Specialist in Working with Workers at the ILO Bureau for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, shared his opinion that it is important to involve social partners in such situations.
“It is good that the trade unions are dealing with the issue of supporting refugees using their resources. According to the recommendation of the ILO training manual (in such matters), social dialogue should play an important role. Trade unions should involve the government and employers. This point is often missing. Trade unions rush to help, exhaust their resources, without involving social partners in the process. It is necessary that the institute of social partnership be implemented in this direction as well,” the ILO representative said.
The difficult geopolitical situation in the Eurasian space is fraught with a new flow of refugees to the countries of Central Asia, which poses a number of issues that need to be addressed to these states.
“We are talking about issues of comprehensive social protection – from employment to the provision of health care services and other social guarantees. It is necessary to train people and bring them to the labor market so that they do not become a burden for national economies. These issues should not fall on the shoulders of trade unions alone, social partners – governments and employers – should share responsibility equally,” Alexandria shared the recommendations of Gocha.
In this regard, the speaker also noted the importance of exchanging experience with specialized international institutions – the United Nations structures on migration, food security organizations, UNESCO, UNICEF and others.
“The UN Cooperation Program with States is a five–year framework agreement on cooperation. Trade unions of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan actively participate in these programs. In Kyrgyzstan, trade unions have not yet joined the framework agreements due to problems that were associated with the change of government and could not fully replace the system of cooperation. The International Labour Organization is ready to hold consultations with the new leadership of Kyrgyzstan on the development of a framework agreement with the UN,” the speaker suggested.
Sergeyus Glovackas, Head of the ACTRAV/ILO Europe and Central Asia Department, cited a recent example as a positive experience when, due to the escalated internal political situation in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan supported the evacuation of the ILO and UN offices from Kabul to Almaty.
Jamshed Yunusov, a representative of the trade union delegation of Tajikistan, Head of the Socio–Economic Department, Public Relations and International Relations of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Tajikistan, shared his experience in developing cooperation with UN structures.
According to him, in March, a meeting was held with the head of the UNICEF office in Tajikistan, during which the directions of joint activities were identified – problems of employment, education, validation and training, as well as problems of child labor and rehabilitation of the younger generation. The National Trade Union Center of Tajikistan intends to expand cooperation with UN programs for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in the country.
Another equally relevant document with recommendations is the ACTRAV Manual “ILO Declaration on Multinational Companies: what’s in it for the workers? Ways of implementation” was presented to the leaders of the national trade union centers by a senior specialist in working with workers of the ILO Bureau for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Gocha Alexandria.
According to the speaker, the issues of labor disputes in modern realities are becoming increasingly important, in the context of globalization, multinational companies do not always participate in the development of labor relations. Therefore, the “ILO Declaration on Multinational Companies” adopted in 1977 is relevant to this day, and generally accepted international standards and conventions are binding.
The representative of the ILO recalled that the goal is to ensure the positive contribution of multinational corporations to economic and social progress to ensure decent work in host countries.
“This goal should be achieved through the adoption by Governments of relevant laws and policies, measures and decisions, as well as through cooperation between governments and organizations of workers and employers of all countries,” said Gocha Alexandria.
According to him, the Declaration considers areas of activity in such areas as employment, vocational training, working and living conditions, as well as labor relations.
“Multinational corporations should fully take into account the common policy goals of countries. Their activities should correspond to the priority development goals and social objectives, as well as the social structure of the country in which they carry out their activities. This is the only ILO instrument that directly concerns enterprises, as well as governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations with regard to social policy and inclusive, responsible and sustainable business practices,” the expert said.
Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan Satybaldy Dauletalin shared with colleagues the Kazakh case on resolving a labor dispute between employees and a foreign employer in the western region of Kazakhstan.
“A labor dispute arose at the Kazakh-Chinese joint venture, which could not be resolved with the employer. We went the other way – we directly appealed to the National Union of Trade Unions of China to provide assistance from their side. This measure has shown its real results – the trade unions of China have had an impact on the company’s management and the issue has been resolved positively. This mechanism could serve as an example of solving problematic issues with multinational companies for all countries,” the Chairman of the FTURK said.
In this regard, the First Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Tinikeev touched upon the topic of obstruction by individual employers in the establishment of trade union organizations in companies with foreign participation.
According to the international expert Gochi Alexandria, in this case it is necessary to use the experience of foreign countries, which in the agreement with investors prescribe the obligation “not to prevent the creation of a trade union.” He cited as the basis the ILO Conventions No. 87 and No. 98, which define the rules on not preventing the creation of trade unions and stipulating the obligation to conduct collective bargaining.
Within the framework of the regional conference, national professional centers presented their proposals for further development of cooperation with ACTRAV/ILO.
They were voiced by the Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan Satybaldy Dauletalin. In particular, at the regional level, an initiative has been developed to hold an international, regional conference on the protection of migrants’ rights with the participation of ACTRAV, as well as the joint organization (through ACTRAV) of training seminars for trade union leaders of Central Asian countries on conflict issues.
In addition, the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan offered ACTRAV to hold a round table with the participation of the Kazakh government on platform employment (Glovo, Yandex, Wolt) and, taking into account best practices and international experience, jointly with the ILO to develop a package of proposals to the Labor Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
It should be noted that the regional conference for trade unions in Central Asia: “Inclusiveness, Sustainability and Resilience – trade union policy to mitigate the consequences of the crisis” was held on May 12-13 in Nur-Sultan as part of the first official foreign visit of the ILO Mission after the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Media Center of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan