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"Salidarnast" organized a summer school for trade union activists from Belarus

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

From July 11 to 16, the first summer school for activists of Belarusian independent trade unions who were forced to leave the country was held in the old mining town of Hattingen (Germany). The event was organized by the association "Salidarnast" with the support of German trade unions.

summer school Salidarnast
Deputy Chairman of Salidarnast Maryia Taradetskaya talks about the summer school program

For several days several dozens of activists of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BNP), the Free Trade Union of Belarus (SPB) and the Belarusian Trade Union of Radio-Electronic Industry Workers (REP), political and social activists as well as their families were able to relax and hold fruitful discussions.

The participants of the school discussed the protests of 2020 and concluded that the workers' attempt to resist the authoritarian regime was more of an emotional reaction to the regime's incapacitation and violence. According to the acting chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP), Maksim Pazniakou, the chances of a mass strike movement were microscopic, and workers were only ready for short-term mass protests.

Lukashenka's usurper regime responded by destroying all organizations of the civil society, including the labour movement represented by the BKDP and its affiliates. Mass arrests affected some fifty trade union leaders and activists, and trade union activities outside Lukashenka's system were banned.

Lizaveta Merliak, Chair of the "Salidarnast" association, and Maksim Pazniakou, Acting Chair of the BKDP, spoke about the organizations' activities abroad, their successes, and the difficulties they faced. The participants stressed the importance of the International Labour Conference resolution on Belarus, which formulated the demands of the international community to the Lukashenka regime: the release of imprisoned trade union leaders, the restoration of freedom of association in Belarus, and the revival of an independent trade union movement are the minimum conditions for starting a dialogue.The participants of the school discussed what activists should do in view of the adoption of this resolution in the near future.

Yury Ravavoi, representative of Rabochy Rukh, told about the experience of the organization's work and the importance of information work.

The participants noted that for the successful implementation of all this, it is necessary to maintain contact between activists in different countries and join forces for joint activities in the future.

"Salidarnast" organized the summer school thanks to the partners of the association and in particular the German Trade Union Confederation ( DGB), which offered the Belarusian activists the opportunity to work and relax in the modern training center of the DGB in Hattingen.

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