The Regional Conference of Central Asian Countries “The Role of Trade Unions in the use of digital transformations for the development of the labor market and ensuring decent work”, organized by the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan jointly with the International Labor Organization, began its work in Almaty today.
The forum is attended by Maria Helena Andre, Director of the Bureau for Activities in the Interests of Workers of the ILO/ACTRAV, Sergeyus Glovackas, Head of the Department of Europe and Central Asia of the ILO/ACTRAV, representatives of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian countries – national trade union centers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as professional leaders of Turkmenistan and Moldova, social partners.
Within two days, international experts will present new approaches to protecting the rights and interests of workers in the digital age. The global crisis phenomena affecting the employment of the population will be considered.
Welcoming the participants of the Conference, Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan Satybaldy Dauletalin noted that the states of the Central Asian region, including Kazakhstan, in their strategies and economic development programs are already solving a number of tasks to develop responses to the challenges of digital transformation of the economy. According to him, the development of the digital economy involves changing not only the quantitative parameters of the labor market, but also the transformation of the format of interaction between employees and employers.
“Currently, digitization is transforming existing workplaces, requiring new skills from employees to perform new tasks, which cause the need for continuous professional development, acquisition of new knowledge and skills. In this regard, trade unions, as the main defenders of workers’ rights, should not only skillfully protect the interests of workers, but also offer solutions for a painless transition of labor relations in the conditions of digitalization,” Satybaldy Dauletalin said.
Addressing the forum participants, Maria Helena Andre, Director of the ILO/ACTRAV Bureau for Activities in the Interests of Workers, thanked the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the high organization of the forum and stressed that the democratic step to elect the Chairman of the FTURK from the trade union environment is a good example for the trade union movement in the region.
The speaker identified the main recommendations of the International Labor Organization for trade unions in the region. In her opinion, the so–called UBERIZATION of the labor market, caused by the development of digital technologies around the world, gave not only a new type of employment – platform, but also introduced unregulated relations between employers and employees into the labor market.
“The International Labor Organization calls on regulators of social and labor relations at the international and national levels to sit down at the negotiating table and work together on gaps in labor legislation in the organization of platform employment and protection of the interests of such workers. It is necessary to ensure the protection of their rights, jointly with the trade unions to adopt relevant regulations, as well as to ensure the digital security of personal data of employees,” said Maria Helena Andre.
According to her, the priorities for social partners at the national level should be: the preservation of fundamental principles of work in the workplace, the activation of advisory bodies on the ratification and implementation of 155 and 187 ILO conventions, as well as ensuring social equality of workers in various sectors of the economy.
“The International Labour Organization expresses its support to the national trade union centers of the region in the ratification of the fundamental conventions. It should be noted that collective responsibility and social dialogue give certain results in Kazakhstan and other countries of the region,” Maria Helena Andre said.
The moderator of the Conference, Head of the Department of Europe and Central Asia of the ILO/ACTRAV Sergeyus Glovackas, continued the topic and noted that the integration factor of providing additional stability and opportunities for protecting the rights of workers in the region within the framework of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian Countries is an important component of the development of the international trade union movement.
International experts shared their vision of the development of labor relations in terms of platform employment. It should be noted that the Conference on the activities of trade unions in the conditions of digitalization of economies is held using modern communication platforms. For example, experts from the ILO Bureau for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Kazutoshi Chatani and Michael Watt addressed the Conference participants by connecting via an audio-visual platform while in Europe.
In continuation of the topic on the impact of current crisis phenomena, representatives of national trade union centers presented country presentations. Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan Gulnara Zhumageldiyeva told colleagues about the situation on the labor market of Kazakhstan. According to the Bureau of National Statistics for the current period, the number of employed people is more than 8 million people, of which the self-employed account for more than 2 million people. A high level of informal employment often entails poor quality of jobs and the associated problems of low wages, limited access to training and a low or complete lack of social security or labor protection under employment contracts. Each of these components has a negative impact not only on the quality of the labor market, but also, first of all, on the well-being of self-employed citizens. In this regard, the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan participates in several working groups on amendments to the current labor legislation, and also initiates a number of measures to the government to solve urgent problems of the labor sphere.
So, for example, many initiatives of trade unions were included in the General Agreement.
“The trade union has achieved the inclusion in the General Agreement of the issue of considering a phased increase in the minimum wage, its annual indexation, the ratification of ILO Convention №131 “On the establishment of minimum Wages with special consideration for developing countries”, the development of a Roadmap with social partners to implement the Concept of Decent Work. We have repeatedly submitted to the social partners the question of the need to develop a methodology for determining the minimum wage and its consistent increase. The President’s Message reflected support for this trade union initiative. The state will introduce a new methodology for determining the minimum wage, which will gradually increase its size. And at the beginning of next year, the minimum wage will increase from 60 to 70 thousand tenge. This will directly affect 1.8 million working Kazakhstanis,” Gulnara Zhumageldiyeva said.
The Federation of Trade Unions has also initiated a number of proposals for inclusion in the Program to increase incomes of the population until 2025, adopted by the government in April this year.
First of all, the Federation of Trade Unions has made a proposal to revise the mechanisms for determining the wage system. It is expected that the implementation of the Program will lead to an average annual growth rate of real incomes of the population at the level of 4-5%, the creation of more than 2 million jobs, an increase in the share of wages in GDP to 38.5% and labor income to 82%. It is important to note that the Program has set an indicator for the creation of at least 100 new jobs for every 10 thousand people of the population for the akims of regions, districts and cities.
In their country presentations, representatives of national trade union centers spoke about the measures introduced by trade unions in the further development of social and labor relations.
Jamshed Yunusov, representative of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Tajikistan, said that 53.4% of the 5.5 million able-bodied population of the country are informally employed, so the recommendations of the Conference are very relevant for the activities of Tajik trade unions.
In turn, Deputy Chairman of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Moldova Sergiu Sainchuk said that one of the main problems in the labor sphere of his country is the increased rate of job closures and the negative growth of unemployment. The situation is aggravated by the growth of refugees from neighboring Ukraine.
Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan Bakhtiyor Makhmadaliyev emphasized the joint work of national trade union centers for the development of educational programs at the Academy of Labor and Social Relations, opened in Tashkent as part of the II meeting of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian countries.
Deputy Chairman of the National Center of Trade Unions of Turkmenistan Sapar Ataberdiyev informed the Conference participants about the intention of Turkmen trade unions to integrate into the activities of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian Countries.
Sukhbaatar Zalmaa, Adviser to the Chairman of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Mongolia, also spoke in favor of further development and strengthening of the interaction of national trade unions within the framework of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian Countries, of which Mongolia became a member a few weeks ago.
Kazakh employment cases on digital platforms were presented to the forum participants by the Chairman of the Committee on Socio-Economic Relations and Social Partnership of the FTURK Saruar Kenzhebulat.
The topic was continued and told how digital platforms affect the economy and labor market in Kazakhstan by Daulet Argandykov, President of JSC “Center for Human Resources Development” of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population.
At the end of the first day of the Conference, the Almaty Declaration was signed between the International Labor Organization and members of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian countries.
According to the document, the cooperation of the ILO/ACTRAV and Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian Countries will be aimed at strengthening the capacity of Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian Countries to assist in solving important economic and social problems and stimulating economic progress in the Central Asian region.
On Friday, October 7, the Regional Conference of Trade Unions of Central Asian Countries will continue its work, its participants will develop relevant recommendations for further effective activities of trade unions in the region to protect the interests of workers in the conditions of digitalization of the economy.
Media Center of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan