Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September 2014, 13:37 GMT

2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Kyrgyzstan

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Kyrgyzstan, 11 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52cadf2d.html [accessed 17 September 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: 5,400,000
Capital: Bishkek
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The current Labour Code is designed to attract foreign investors more than to protect workers' rights, although basic trade union rights are recognised. The President of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan was suspended from his work and later replaced by a government protégé.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association: 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 the unions' role in negotiations diminished.

Right to strike: Strikes can rarely be 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.

Limited freedom of assembly: On 6 August, President Bakiev signed off amendments to the law on public assembly, which were strongly criticised by the Council of Europe. A number of restrictions on the time and place of public meetings were introduced and permission needed henceforth to be obtained from the local authorities.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: There were a number of concerns as regards the general human rights situation. Several journalists and human rights defenders had to flee the country, and human rights NGOs faced problems. Flaws were reported in the October municipal elections.

Government interference: On 1 February, Sagyn Bozgumbayev, the President of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan (FPKg), which was an associated organisation of the ITUC at the time, was suspended from his office by the Pervomayski district court. The charges against the trade unionist pertained to a criminal case that was officially closed in 2006, but on 31 January 2008 the Prosecutor-General's office decided to re-open the investigation. Bozgumbayev was subsequently convicted and prohibited from holding an elected trade union post. The ITUC saw Bozgumbayev's suspension as a move to get a democratically elected trade union leader replaced by the government's protégé. Earlier, some officials of ministries and regional governments as well as public prosecutors approached the leaders of FPKg affiliates, suggesting that they vote a certain way during the trade union elections, however the trade unionists voted against the "intruder" twice. In October, the FPKg executive committee, attended by the Deputy Prime-Minister and the Deputy Chairman of the national parliament, had to elect the new FPKg President by an open ballot, which resulted in the election of a government protégé. With its leadership under the control of the state, the FPKg lost its ITUC associated organisation status in December, just over one year after obtaining it.

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 agreements are not always respected. Labour inspection is largely ineffective, and possible fines for trade union rights violations are merely token sums that do not promote compliance.

Unions taxed and fined: In some districts, taxes have been imposed on trade unions, although they are non-profit organisations and should therefore not be considered as taxpayers.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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