On May 25, at the 15th Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Maksim Pazniakou, acting chair of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP), made an astute appeal for international labor solidarity.
Before hundreds of delegates and guests from dozens of countries, Pazniakou in his speech raised the problem of systematic destruction of the trade union movement in Belarus and the mass repression faced by trade union leaders and activists in the country.
«I am from Belarus, a country where since 1995 the labour movement was destroyed and in 2022 all independent trade unions were liquidated by the Lukashenka regime," Pazniakoг began his speech. - "At the moment 41 trade union leaders and activists are under criminal prosecution in Belarus, some of them have sentences of up to 15 years. Almost all of them are recognized as extremists, and some of them are even terrorists! Just imagine in the 21st century, in the centre of Europe, trade union work is equated to extremism!»
He said that the Belarusian trade unions now need international labour solidarity to free their comrades from prison.
«We must use all instruments of international solidarity: support campaigns, participate in solidarity protests, and apply international legal mechanisms, including Article 33 of the ILO charter to the government of Belarus!»
The Belarusian trade union leader noted that at present the entire labor movement in the world is in crisis, and for its survival it is necessary to return to the fundamental principle of trade unions - international solidarity.
«Greedy multinational corporations seek super-profits by squeezing the last resources from poor workers in developing countries. Vendacious governments, hiding behind concern for the future of the country, pass anti-worker laws that deprive us of our pensions, social support, and the hope of a decent old age. Dictatorial regimes prohibit strikes, destroy trade unions, persecute and imprison union leaders and activists, and the most insane unleash bloody wars to satisfy their imperial ambitions!
So now, more than ever, we need to be united and in solidarity to win our common struggle for freedom, democracy and social justice!»
At the end of the speech a video with portraits of trade union prisoners was shown. As a sign of respect for the struggle of the Belarusian workers, the whole hall stood up and applauded.
Recall that the 15th Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) continued for three days in Berlin. The event attracted about 600 delegates, including general secretaries or chairmen of 93 national trade unions from 41 European countries, 10 European trade union federations, as well as special guests from Europe and other countries. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and a number of other politicians.