The Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BCDTU) accused the pro-government Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FTUB) of continuing pressure on independent unions.
In a May 18 statement, the BCDTU said that the federation’s actions threatened to disrupt dialogue between the Belarusian authorities and the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The Congress referred to "provocative" statements made by FTUB leaders about their plans to put an end to the independent trade union movement in Belarus. The BCDTU accused the pro-government federation of barring independent unions from the process of negotiating and signing collective bargaining agreements.
The FTUB attempted to veto a government plan of action to implement the ILO’s recommendations proposed by the minister of labor and social security at a meeting of the National Council on Labor and Social Matters this past February, the statement said.
The BCDTU noted that the International Labor Organization would have considered the restoration of Belarus’ trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences as early as this June if it had not been for the FTUB’s stance. The organization urged the government to go ahead with the implementation of the ILO’s recommendations and ensure more rights for independent trade unions.
Speaking earlier this month, FTUB Chairman Leanid Kozik suggested that independent trade unions should not enjoy opportunities that the Federation has and stressed that the membership of independent trade unions was dropping thanks to efforts by the Federation.
In late 2004, the ILO Commission of Inquiry considered a 200-page report by a special commission probing the authorities' alleged interference in the activities of Belarusian trade unions and adopted 12 recommendations for the government.
In December 2006, the European Union decided to suspend Belarus' trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences as punishment for Minsk’s failure to respect independent trade unions' rights and carry out the ILO recommendations.