Friday, September 15, 2017
The 8th Congress of the General Confederation of Trade Unions (GCTU) took place in Moscow’s Palace of Labour 12 September 2017. Attending the event were 131 delegates from the national trade union centres of the Newly Independent Sates and the industrial Trade Union Internationals (TUIs) representing about 50 million organised workers, and also guests from the ITUC, leading CIS bodies, the business community, and the press.
As he delivered the activity report for the period under review (2012-2017), GCTU General Secretary Vladimir Scherbakov described the socio-political situation in the region as unstable. Both nationally and internationally, capital has been building up offensive on workers’ rights and interests, which has undermined and eroded some important social gains. Social inequality has grown, with the rich fattening their profits and the poor getting even poorer. Against this background, pressure on trade unions and their leaders has taken new forms and methods. As a result, quite a few previously efficient mechanisms used by trade unions to protect workers’ interests now need to be revised and updated with due consideration for present-day realities.
Among those who addressed the Congress were Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Sergey Lebedev, State Secretary of the Union State of Russia and Belarus Grigory Rapota; President of the International Congress of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Viktor Glukhikh; and Head of the Secretariat of the Minister for Economic and Financial Policy of the Eurasian Economic Commission Askar Kishkembayev. The leaders of the GCTU-affiliated national trade union centres of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia and Tajikistan, and of industrial TUIs intervened in the debate on the report.
Congress recognised the work done by the Confederation as satisfactory, adopted the Guidelines for GCTU Activity in 2017-2022, and approved the principal umbrella slogan of the region’s trade unions for the next five years: "Respond to the Challenges of Time with Trade Union Solidarity!” 
In the coming period, the unions intend to:
- take concrete actions to protect the rights and interests of wage workers and strengthen the influence of trade unions at the industrial, national and international levels;
- defend the trade union rights and freedoms and oppose resolutely any encroachments on them;
- protect the institutions of social dialogue and social partnership, and enhance the mutual responsibility of the partners for undertaken commitments;
- keep the governments and the general public aware that labour rights are a core component of human rights;
- strengthen unity within the GCTU, and promote friendship and cooperation among its member organisations.
Congress adopted the following resolutions:
- "Decent wages to working people!”
- "Securing safety and health at work is a major task of the region’s trade unions!” 
- "Labour legislation provides an important tool for protecting the rights and interests of employees."
- "Environmental protection forms the ecological basis for sustainable development."
- "Equal rights and opportunities for men and women as a key to achieving the sustainable development goals." 
- "Youth is the future of trade unions".
In addition, two statements were adopted entitled "On the Ratification and Observance of ILO Conventions" (see full text here) and "Let the Progress of the Fourth Technological Revolution Benefit Workers!’
Congress formed the compositions of the Council and the Executive Committee of the GCTU, and approved the member list of its Control and Auditing Commission.
Mikhail Shmakov (leader of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia) was elected President of the GCTU, and Viktor Karnyushin (leader of the TUI of Timber and Related Industries Workers), Vice President. Both will perform their functions on a voluntary basis.
Vladimir Scherbakov was elected General Secretary of the GCTU.
The Council that met immediately after the Congress elected Viktor Pinsky (on a voluntary basis), Natalia Podshibyakina, Albert Potapov and Valery Yuriyev as Deputy General Secretaries of the GCTU.