On October 12, Maksim Pazniakou, acting chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP), spoke at the conference of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), where he shared the urgent need to fight for trade union freedom in Belarus. In his speech, he emphasized that despite the resolution adopted at the International Labor Conference, the government of Belarus continues to ignore the demands and pressure from the international community.
Since the adoption of the resolution, Belarus has witnessed an intensification of repression against trade union activists and workers. According to Pazniakou, detentions have taken place across the country, including the cities of Navapolatsk, Lida, Mazyr, Gomel and Minsk. As part of these raids, numerous workers were subjected to administrative arrests and criminal charges.
According to the Belarusian trade union leader, among those detained were trade union activists from Navapolatsk, such as Volha Brytsikava, Aliaksandr Balonkin and Aliaksandr Kukharonak, who face up to 6 years in prison. This fact emphasizes the seriousness of the situation and the need for action.
Pazniakou also drew attention to the deteriorating health of Vasil Berastnev, acting chairman of the REP trade union, who needs a kidney transplant and was transferred to the hospital. Aliaksandr Yarashuk, chairman of the BKDP, was given a tougher regime for serving his sentence and was placed in a small cell.
In his speech he noted the violation of the principle of not deporting Belarusian trade unionists abroad, as stipulated in the ILO resolution. In this case, the Swedish migration service refused to grant political asylum to Ala Tsvirko, an activist of the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers (SPM), despite the criminal case against her in Belarus.
Pazniakou concluded by calling on all affiliates to consult with their governments and mobilize to free trade unionists from Belarusian prisons and restore the right to free association in Belarus.
"We must all mobilize and ensure that the ILO resolution on Belarus does not remain just a political statement, but starts working and helps to free trade unionists from prisons and restore the right to freedom of association in Belarus."
In addition, the ITUC Congress confirmed Luc Triangle as ITUC General Secretary at the 6th Extraordinary World Congress, which took place online on October 12. He has been serving as Acting Secretary General of the ITUC since May 2023.
The congress also adopted changes to the ITUC constitution aimed at strengthening the election procedure. The next ITUC General Council meeting will be held in Brussels on December 12-14, 2023, where important issues in the field of international trade unions and their role in today's world will be discussed.