On November 20, the European Humanities University (EHU) hosted a conference entitled "The Right to Strike, Protection from Harassment and Freedom of Association: Social and Scientific Issues in Global and Local Perspective". Representatives of trade unions, civil society organizations and international guests actively participated in the event.
After the opening of the conference, Dr. Lyudmila Ulyashina spoke on freedom of association and the right to join trade unions in Belarus. Yulia Ostorovskaya, researcher of the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, highlighted the topic of eradication of violence and harassment in the sphere of labor related to the campaign for the adoption of ILO Convention No. 190. Speakers from Lithuania shared the specifics of freedom of association in their country and the problems of harassment highlighted through the LGBTI lens.
The second block of the conference focused on workers' rights and human rights from the perspective of national legislation and international standards.
Oksana Wolfson, Head of the ILO Freedom of Association Unit, gave an overview of international standards on freedom of association and protection mechanisms, focusing on the problems of the Belarusian situation with workers' rights and the process of applying paragraph 33 of the ILO Constitution to Belarus.
She emphasized that all the positive changes achieved by the ILO mission in recent years were annulled in 2020. Representatives of Belarus do not make concessions, but continue to participate in the negotiations.
Maksim Pazniakou, Acting Chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP), shared information about the birth, development and destruction of the trade union movement under Lukashenka's regime. Yury Ravavy, representing the Rabochy Rukh initiative, focused on the successes and failures of labor protest during the mass demonstrations of August-October 2020.
Yanina Unnli, international secretary of the Norwegian trade union LO, shared her trade union experience, offering a perspective that could be useful for faculty and students in establishing their own unions at EHU.
At the end of the presentations, the participants started discussing the role of EHU in the formation of civil society, protection of human rights in the context of freedom of association and trade union rights.
As part of the conference, an exhibition dedicated to repressed leaders and activists of the Belarusian labor movement was opened on one of the floors of the university.