On June 23, 2023 in Astana was launched a two-day Regional Conference of Trade Unions of Central Asia on “The role of trade unions in ensuring occupational safety and health and the effective functioning of the labor inspectorate”, organized by the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan under the auspices of the International Labor Organization.
Participants of the forum – trade union leaders from national trade union centers of member states of the Trade Union Council of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as representatives of trade unions of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, experts of the International Labor Organization, social partners consider topical issues in the field of labor safety and security in Central Asia, and discuss mechanisms for improving the effectiveness of occupational safety measures.
Welcoming his colleagues, Satybaldy Dauletalin, Secretary General of the CCATU – Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan, noted the importance of sharing experience and developing joint action by Central Asian trade unions to improve occupational safety and health, compliance with and further implementation of international occupational safety standards in legislation.
“For all of us, ensuring occupational safety and health is without exaggeration the most important issue in the field of labor. The current year has been declared the Year of Safe Labor by the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, and since the beginning of the year the Federation and its member organizations have held various events everywhere, including today’s conference,” stressed Satybaldy Dauletalin.
According to FTURK, there are 12,488 industrial safety and labor protection councils at enterprises with trade union organizations, 11,509 of which were created at the initiative of trade unions. It should be noted, however, that 11,385 works councils have been created in non-production organizations.
At the same time, the head of the RK Federation of Trade Unions noted that, despite the measures taken, we cannot yet speak of significant positive changes in the field of labor safety.
“The dynamics of accidents do not actually have a pronounced downward trend. Every year more than 200 people die at work. What is the reason for these sad statistics? According to Herbert Heinrich’s safety pyramid, 30,000 minor potentially dangerous workplace accidents result in one fatality,” said the FTURK Chairman.
He believes that to reduce the number of accidents, a systematic effort is needed to address the preconditions for a workplace accident, with digital technology to involve all workers and minimize the potential for accidents.
The Federation of Trade Unions was actively involved in the development of the draft Concept of Safe Work in the Republic of Kazakhstan until 2030, which includes a number of trade union initiatives.
“The concept includes a wide range of comprehensive measures aimed at improving the situation in this area. A key element of the concept is the transition from a list approach to a risk-oriented model, when prevention, prevention and response measures are built on the basis of occupational risks,” said Satybaldy Dauletalin.
At the same time, trade unions intend to seek positive decisions on other, previously announced proposals, including the strengthening of liability of employers for failure to provide appropriate conditions for safety and health at work; the exclusion of mixed liability of parties with a definition of the degree of guilt of the employer and employee in the percentage.
“Another important issue is the transfer of the state labor inspectorate from local executive bodies to the direct subordination of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection with an increase in the number of state inspectors and the expansion of their powers,” stressed Satybaldy Dauletalin.
Among the key tasks of the FTURK Chairman also outlined the solution of problematic issues of compensation for harm caused to the employee as a result of an accident, the exception of dangerous production pegging the amount of pay for work output.
“Alongside with that, trade unions stand for development of the institute of public control and industrial democracy by giving additional powers and incentives to technical labour safety inspectors; conducting joint inspections in the format “state labour inspector – technical labour safety inspector”; delegating part of powers of state labour inspectors to production councils for labour safety and labour protection; expanding the functionality of production councils for quality control, selection and training of employees, the development of rationalization and mentoring, and the application of the best examples of safe work practices,” said Satybaldy Dauletalin.
In his welcoming speech Sergejus Glovackas, Head of Europe and Central Asia Department of ACTRAV/ILO, noted the increased level of international cooperation of the Central Asian Council of Trade Unions.
“It is encouraging that all our agreements with CCATU, within the framework of the adopted agreements are not of a declarative nature and their implementation brings positive results,” said Sergeus Glovackas.
Speaking of occupational safety and health issues, he noted their relevance on a global scale.
“The ILO actively promotes occupational safety and health issues. Recent tragic events in Kazakhstan related to fires in the Abay region, which took lives, once again confirm the importance of safe work. The President of Kazakhstan has shown great concern and support for the families of the victims. Our job, as an ally in such cases, is to create conditions for the prevention of accidents at work. It is necessary to promote the fundamental ILO conventions in this field. Today among Central Asian countries only Kazakhstan has ratified ILO fundamental conventions 155 and 187. Occupational safety and health issues have been addressed at the International Labor Conference in Geneva. In October the ILO and CAREC will hold an important meeting on climate change, which is also related to occupational safety systems. Climate has a direct impact on working conditions and occupational safety, especially in the Central Asian region,” said Sergeus Glovackas, Head of the Europe and Central Asia Department of ACTRAV/ILO.
Addressing the conference participants, Akmadi Sarbasov, social partner and First Vice Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Kazakhstan, noted the importance of the event and expressed his support for the initiatives of the RK Federation of Trade Unions to promote safe labor issues.
He informed the participants about the state policy on the development of the social and labor sphere in Kazakhstan.
“In April, the Head of State signed the Social Code, which came into force on July 1. It is the first comprehensive document, which reflects all measures of state support of citizens throughout their life cycle – from birth to old age. In addition, the Code includes measures of state policy aimed at preserving labor resources. At the International Labor Conference KIOSH-2023 we together with our social partners discussed approaches on improvement of regulatory policy in light of the Concept of Safe Labor in Kazakhstan till 2023”, – said Akmadi Sarbasov.
He called it symbolic that the Regional Conference was held right after the approval of the Road Map on the development of the Safe Labor Concept on June 19.
“As for harmful working conditions, we understand that there is a large proportion of workers engaged in harmful working conditions – it is about 30% or 1.6 million workers. However, only 10% of workers today are covered by compulsory health insurance. If you compare with developed countries, these statistics do not speak in our favor. Today we need to take more decisive measures to save labor resources and there is a valuable experience that we have, including the International Labor Organization. I hope we will get substantive recommendations based on the results of this conference”, – stressed the First Vice-Minister of MLSP of the RK.
In turn, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Tajikistan Ismoil Faizizoda noted that the topic of labor safety is relevant for his country.
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Tajikistan declared 2023 the “Year of Occupational Safety and Health,” in the framework of which the trade unions adopted an appeal to all social partners to strengthen control over the state of occupational safety and health.
“The situation in the field of BIOT is of concern to the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Tajikistan. In 2021, the Federation registered 22 accidents at work, in which 22 people were injured, including 7 deaths. In 2022, the figure increased to 28 cases, in which 33 people were injured, 12 of whom died. It’s time for trade unions in the Central Asian region to unite in this direction, and it is gratifying that we are already discussing these issues at the Regional Conference”, – said Ismoil Fayzizoda.
Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan Kobiljon Kirgizaliyev in his speech spoke about measures to improve the effectiveness of social control.
“Over the past 6 years, as a result of large-scale reforms, including in the sphere of social and labor relations in our country, cardinal changes are taking place. They are primarily aimed at protecting the rights of workers and creating decent working conditions. On this basis, the Republic of Uzbekistan has ratified a number of ILO conventions. In 2020 a labor inspectorate of trade unions was created under the Federation, and the work of 95 trade union inspectors was established,” said a representative of the FPU.
Rysgul Babaeva, deputy chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan, focused on problematic issues of ensuring the safety of Kyrgyz workers.
According to her, of particular relevance for the country is the issue of increasing the capacity of state supervision of compliance with labor legislation and labor protection standards.
“Our technical inspectors have recorded and investigated 116 accidents, 53 of them fatal. Our main problem is the moratorium on inspections of entrepreneurs by the state body for control of labor legislation”, – noted Rysgul Babayeva.
Allamyrat Sakhetmyradov, Chairman of the Audit Commission of the National Center of Trade Unions of Turkmenistan, reported on the activities of the Trade Union Commission on Occupational Safety and Health.
“The Commission organizes joint actions of employer and employee to ensure BIOT, prevent occupational injuries and occupational diseases, as well as organizes on-site inspections of occupational safety and informs employees about the results of implementation of the collective agreement provisions in the field of labor protection,” said Allamyrat Sakhetmyradov.
Murvat Mehrabov, Technical Inspector of the Occupational Safety and Health Department of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Azerbaijan, thanked the organizers for the opportunity to participate in the trade union forum and share experiences with trade unions in Central Asia.
The special role of trade unions in ensuring health and safety was noted by Victor Hugo Ricco, Senior Specialist on Workers’ Activities, ILO/ACTRAW, who provided a brief overview of the ILO system of international labour standards and analysis on the implementation of ILO recommendations and conventions.
He said that the main requirements of the ILO are timely reporting by governments, workers’ and employers’ associations on the implementation of recommendations.
He paid particular attention to the ratification and promotion of Conventions Nos. 155 and 187.
“Convention No. 155 on Occupational Safety and Health and Framework Convention No. 187 on Occupational Safety and Health are fundamental. All ILO member states have obligations to realize the basic right to a safe and healthy working environment, whether or not they have ratified the respective conventions,” said the international expert.
António Santos, Labor Regulation, Labor Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health, ILO Bureau for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, spoke in more detail about the provisions of the conventions discussed.
According to the international expert, the national policy in the field of labor protection should provide measures for the prevention of accidents at work, clearly distribute the functions and responsibilities of state agencies, employers and workers, as well as provide training and motivation in achieving the appropriate level of labor protection.
A new ideology of state policy in the field of labor protection in Kazakhstan was presented by Sholpan Abikenova, General Director of the Republican Research Institute for Labor Protection of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
As noted the speaker, now social partners developed the project Concept of safe labor up to 2030, the purpose of which is to improve the quality of workers and saving labor resources.
“Instead of certification of production facilities for working conditions it is proposed to introduce an assessment of professional risk. It will be carried out taking into account 5 criteria: harmfulness of working conditions, injury risk index, safety of equipment, provision with individual protection means and sickness rate. The result of the introduced mechanism will be a new classification of working conditions by the degree of professional risk not only of enterprises, but also of specific jobs”, – said Sholpan Abikenova.
The draft document provides differentiation of insurance rates depending on the degree of occupational risk, as well as introduction of occupational risk management system, which implies a shift from fighting the consequences of accidents to their prevention and anticipation.
Saule Akynzhanova, chief freelance occupational pathologist of Karaganda Region, the head of Clinic and Diagnostic Department of Clinic of Professional Health of “Karaganda Medical University”, told about condition of occupational disease rate in Kazakhstan.
According to her data, only last year in the country 8 168 occupational diseases were revealed, mainly in Karaganda (4 557) and East Kazakhstan (2 832) regions.
In general, the speaker noted the need to increase the preventive potential of occupational medicine.
“It is necessary to develop interdepartmental cooperation in the field of health protection of working population, improve the labor medicine service, modernize the regulations of medical examinations at enterprises and develop human resources in the field of occupational health”, – Saule Akynzhanova believes.
Yerzhan Kadyrsizov, General Director of eCapital LLP, presented Kazakhstan’s latest digital development “ASPANS” in the field of production process safety.
The platform is a product in the form of mobile and web applications designed to develop information systems of enterprises, and making decisions to automate business processes aimed at preventing accidents, as well as preventing risks to life and health of workers.
“To date the system has been implemented at 100 enterprises of the country, covering 150,000 employees. As a result of the use of “ASPANS” in enterprises the growth of safety culture and labor protection is observed through the involvement of all employees in reducing risks, making relevant management decisions, reducing production risks, increasing safety and labor productivity, as well as reducing costs and losses due to business interruption due to accidents, – added Yerzhan Kadyrsizov.
Linar Rakhadilov, technical inspector on labour protection at the Aksu ferroalloy plant of TNK Kazchrome JSC, shared the experience of another “People’s Control” project.
According to him, “People’s Control” is a social project implemented at “Kazchrome” enterprises, including the Aksu Ferroalloy Plant.
The essence of the project is that the company’s employees who suffered injuries and occupational diseases at work, as a result of which they cannot work at a hazardous industrial facility, are not left behind. They are attracted to the “People’s Control” project as full-time operators.
“Aksu Ferroalloy Plant employs 15 operators, who remotely view 49 video surveillance cameras 24 hours a day online and record cases of safety violations. All video surveillance operators work from home on four-hour shifts. Last year alone, the project helped prevent 1,812 safety violations. And in total for 3 years – 27 thousand violations”, – said Linar Rakhadilov.
Mukhtar Tinikeyev, First Deputy Chairman of FTURK, reported on the initiatives of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the field of occupational safety.
“Trade unions in the framework of the draft Law of the RK “On amendments and additions to some legislative acts of the RK on improvement of safe working conditions and protection of labor rights of employees” proposed to oblige employers who are medium and large businesses to create production councils. In order to improve the status of technical inspectors of labor protection, the Federation of Trade Unions sent proposals to the Government and Parliament to provide technical inspectors with additional powers and incentives. One of the proposals concerns the organization of joint inspections in the format “state labor inspector – technical labor safety inspector”. Our task is to widely disseminate positive examples when there are specific provisions in collective contracts and agreements on providing time and conditions for technical inspectors, establishing powers, incentives and encouragement measures,” listed Mukhtar Tinikeyev.
According to the RK Federation of Trade Unions, in 2022, technical inspectors conducted 117,484 inspections of working conditions, including 60,629 inspections initiated by production boards, 163,080 observations were identified and 158,326 were eliminated.
Last year, technical inspectors initiated 463 cases of suspension of work endangering life and health of workers.
At the initiative of trade unions, the “People’s Control” project was implemented at 240 enterprises in the country, covering more than 184,000 workers.
In addition, the Federation of Trade Unions promotes the campaign for enterprises of the country to join the concept of the international social security association “Zero Injuries – Vizion Zero” and the implementation of occupational health and safety standards – OHSAS 18001, ILO-OSH.
Nodira Gaibnazarova, head of the Labor Protection Department of the FPU administration, presented the key areas of the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan.
According to her, there have been radical changes in Uzbekistan’s legislative framework: the country’s Constitution has been updated, a new Labor Code has been adopted, and amendments have been made to the Law on Trade Unions.
“For the first time since 2016, forced child labor has been legally eradicated and the Uzbek authorities have recognized poverty in the country. The Constitution and the updated laws tripled the norms of social guarantees, including the right to safe labor,” Nodira Gaibnazarova informed.
In turn, Akobir Kurbanov, head of the labor protection department, chief labor inspector of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Tajikistan, speaking about the experience of trade union labor inspectors, noted that inspectors have the right to freely inspect organizations for compliance with labor protection requirements and make recommendations for their mandatory elimination.
“A draft law “On compulsory insurance of employees against accidents at work and occupational diseases” has now been developed. This document is in the Government and the Parliament of Tajikistan,” the speaker added.
Murvat Mehrabov, technical inspector of the labor protection department of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Azerbaijan, spoke about the steps taken by trade unions in his country to create a safe working environment.
“Technical labor inspectors of trade unions together with public labor safety representatives carry out control and preventive work at enterprises, actively participate in improvement of labor conditions at workplaces, widely use the practice of multilateral joint public control and participate in the projects of national importance,” he emphasized.
Continuing the series of presentations on national experience, the head of the technical labor inspection of the Kyrgyz Federation of Trade Unions, Dogdurbay Tynybekov, noted that many legal acts in the field of labor protection have been lost due to the abolition and inventory of national legislation.
“The public control service is currently in the process of revival. Today there are 30 technical inspectors in the Federation. Despite the moratorium on business inspections, introduced in 2019, technical inspectors are empowered with the social protection of workers injured at work. Thus, the trade union is assigned the right to make all calculations for compensation to victims,” said Dogdurbay Tynybekov.
In turn, chairman of the Audit Commission of the National Center of Trade Unions of Turkmenistan Allamyrat Sakhetmyradov reported on the work of trade unions in public control.
“In accordance with Article 186 of the Labor Code of Turkmenistan, labor protection commissions are created at enterprises at the initiative of the employer, as well as at the initiative of employees or trade union body of employees. They are composed of representatives of employers on a parity basis,” noted the representative of Turkmenistan.
Concluding the first day of the conference Sergejus Glovackas, Head of Europe and Central Asia Department of ACTRAV/ILO, noted its fruitful work.
“The participants presented a complete picture of the state of occupational safety and health in the Central Asian region. The best specialists on labor rights are retained in trade unions. We need to develop this potential, so tomorrow together we will develop proposals for further implementation of measures to ensure occupational safety and health,” he concluded.
Media Center of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan