The International Labor Organization (ILO) may call for sanctions against Belarus over the government's failure to comply with its recommendations regarding trade unions' rights, Alyaksandr Yarashuk, chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions, told BelaPAN.
He explained that the government had failed to submit an annual report detailing its work to observe the rights of independent trade unions to the ILO this year.
After the issue was not put on the agenda of the International Labor Conference this past June, the Belarusian authorities may have thought that the ILO was no longer attending to the situation, Mr. Yarashuk suggested.
The activist said that considering the continuing deterioration of the situation of independent trade unions in Belarus, the ILO may resort to Article 33 of its Constitution, which says that the ILO Governing Body "may recommend to the Conference such action as it may deem wise and expedient" to secure a country's compliance with recommendations made by the ILO's Commission of Inquiry.
Belarus would become only the second country to which the article has been applied. Previously, the ILO used the article to call for economic sanctions against Myanmar, which eventually forced the Asian country's government to respect the rights of independent trade unions.
Mr. Yarashuk described the situation of independent trade unions in Belarus as "disastrous." He referred to authorities' pressure on an independent trade union at crushed stone mining company Hranit.
In late 2004, the ILO Commission of Inquiry adopted the 12 recommendations for the Belarusian government after considering a 200-page report compiled by a special commission formed to probe the government’s alleged interference in the activities of trade unions.
In December 2006, the European Union decided to suspend Belarus’ trade benefits under its Generalized System of Preferences as punishment for Minsk’s failure to respect independent trade unions' rights and carry out the ILO’s recommendations.
Experts say that the government has made no progress on the recommendations since they were made.