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2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Kyrgyzstan

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2007
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Kyrgyzstan, 9 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52ca24c.html [accessed 22 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 5,200,000
Capital: Bishkek
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The trade unions successfully prevented attempts to amend the legislation to remove some of their rights. The current Labour Code is designed to attract foreign investors more than to protect workers' rights, although basic trade union rights are recognised. Labour inspection remains ineffective.

Trade union rights in law

All workers have the right to form and belong to trade unions, and the law protects union members from anti-union discrimination.

Pro-employer Labour Code: Under pressure from the international financial institutions and foreign investors the Labour Code was amended in 2004 to reflect primarily the interests of employers. The government argued that the level of protection for workers was too high, making the economic environment of Kyrgyzstan unattractive for foreign investors. Workers' rights were reduced and unions' role in negotiations diminished.

Right to strike: Strikes are rarely used as an instrument to defend workers' rights. Under section 78(3) of the Labour Code, strikes are prohibited in the railway transport, public transport, civil aviation, communication services and enterprises that work round the clock, the stoppage of which would have hazardous consequences. The ILO's Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) has noted that as these services are not considered essential services according to the internationally recognised definition of the term, the government should amend its legislation so as to ensure that workers in the above services may exercise the right to strike.

Section 78(4) of the Labour Code provides that workers, following mediation and conciliation procedures provided for in the Code, could address the Government of Kyrgyzstan to defend their legitimate rights and interests. The CEACR requested the government to review the legislation so as to ensure that collective disputes are settled by an independent body enjoying the confidence of the parties concerned and not by the government, but it has not done so thus far.

Attempts to take away trade union rights by amending the legislation: In 2006 the Kyrgyzstan government and the Ministry for Labour put forward several legislative amendments to restrict trade union rights. According to the draft Law "On amendments to the Labour Code of Kyrgyzstan", prepared in January 2006, the Labour Code was to lose the articles regulating the activity of the trade union technical labour inspectorate. The change would have taken away the trade union right to control labour health and safety. The second draft on amendments to the Trade Unions Act proposed to scrap trade union participation in social security fund management. The Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan succeeded in getting both drafts dropped.

The government also drafted a new Housing Code that denies the right of a trade union to take decisions on housing matters within a company jointly with the employer. The Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan opposed such a version of the Housing Code and submitted its comments and suggestions to the Kyrgyzstan government and parliament. The future of the draft law has not been decided at the time of writing.

Trade union rights in practice

Approximately 94 per cent of all workers belong to a union, and both private and public sector workers are union members. There is considerable dialogue between the government and trade unions.

Employers: Some employers impede the work of trade unions by refusing to let unionists enter the enterprise where their members are employed. In enterprises facing severe economic difficulties, management often threatens bankruptcy as a means of deterring trade union activity.

Collective bargaining agreements not always respected: The scope and extent of collective bargaining have been expanding in recent years. However employers do not always respect agreements.

Unions taxed and fined: In some districts, taxes have been imposed on trade unions, although they are non-profit organisations and thus not considered taxpayers. Tax Inspectorates have, nevertheless, obliged them to register and fines have been unlawfully imposed.

Labor Inspection: The Labour Code establishes a government body for workplace inspection, but in practice it has be largely ineffective. Employers have an incentive to violate labour laws as the likelihood of inspection is limited and the possible fines are often cheaper than compliance itself.

Violations in 2006

Impeding Trade Union Activity: The Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan reported that in December 2006 the management of the Oberon market in the city of Bishkek increased the rent for trading areas. Trade unionists from the Trade Workers Union conducted talks with the tenants with a view to preventing any rent rises. The market manager prohibited trade unionists from visiting the workplaces of traders at the market and threatened them with administrative and legal action. The manager had a police officer present at the discussions. The dispute was resolved after intervention by the Republican Committee of the Trade Workers Union.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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