Friday, September 15, 2017
The 8th Congress of the General Confederation of Trade Unions expresses concern at the socio-economic development in the region’s countries hit by an economic slowdown resulting from the global crisis and aggravated by a worsening geopolitical situation. The social price of anti-crisis measures taken in recent years, and economic, political and legislative transformations has almost everywhere been exorbitantly high. The legal and social protection of working people has decreased, their real incomes have dropped dramatically, the number of unemployed has risen, and even those who have a job do not always manage to secure themselves a decent standard of living.
Particularly alarming is the fact that, faced with financial and economic challenges, the authorities and employers are more and more often tempted to solve the emerging problems by grossly disregarding the interests of workers, and trampling on their rights guaranteed by national constitutions, legislations and collective agreements.
Such a situation cannot be tolerated. Congress delegates believe that today, when our countries are still engaged in an intensive, often complex and contradictory, process of lawmaking, it is crucial that all acts affecting the social sphere should be checked up on their compliance with ILO conventions jointly formulated and adopted by all states. These regulatory instruments have long been a reliable reference point for trade unions in their fights for a socially oriented economy, for the vital interests and legal rights of workers, for building civilised labour relations, and implementing the principles of decent work for all.
Against this background, the issue of ratification and observance of major ILO conventions by the countries of GCTU affiliates has acquired special urgency. Since 2006, the General Confederation of Trade Unions, with the support of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, has been monitoring the progress of ratification and observance of the ILO basic conventions and 11 additional international labour standards selected by the Confederation for priority ratification, in view of their special significance in the specific conditions of a transition economy.
Over the past period, considerable advance has been made towards this end. However, Congress notes that the ratification rates have recently slowed down, leaving many important conventions unratified. Regrettably, none of the region’s countries has ratified Convention No. 168 on Employment Promotion and Protection against Unemployment, while only one country has ratified Convention No. 102 on Minimum Standards of Social Security.
Congress is also worried about the increasingly frequent violations of ratified international labour standards. First of all, this concerns fundamental conventions, such as No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Bargain Collectively, No. 29 on Forced or Compulsory Labour, and No. 182 on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour. On top of that, the growing number of long delays in work remuneration is in breach of Convention No. 95 on the Protection of Wages ratified by all states of the region.
The governments tend to explain the problems of ratification and respect of international labour standards with the current difficulties of protracted recovery after the financial and economic crisis. Meanwhile, the international trade union community has long developed the firm conviction that social issues must not be pushed to the periphery of economic policy priorities under any circumstances. The GCTU shares the opinion of the world’s trade unions about the collective responsibility of all states for a successful sustainable development.
The GCTU 8th Congress draws the attention of the governments, parliaments and social partners in the region’s countries to the inadmissibility of such a situation, and urges them to take the necessary measures for a rapid ratification of key ILO Conventions, with their subsequent implementation in national legislations and strict observance in labour practices. We are positive that, under the current economic instability, the success of these efforts will provide an additional guarantee that no economic recovery programmes will be carried out primarily through the infringement of employees’ social and economic interests.
We also call upon the affiliated organisations – national trade union centres of the Newly Independent States and sectoral Trade Union Internationals - not to relax their efforts in this direction and do all they can to rectify the situation in the spirit of earlier decisions.
Congress reaffirms the GCTU’s continued support of the International Labour Organisation, and expresses the hope that its new course for updating its activity and specifying its priorities will make it stronger and enhance the effectiveness of its standard-setting activity.