(11 March 2021) Meeting online, the EPSU affiliates of North East Europe expressed their concerns about developments in the region 3 March. They received information about the situation in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine. The unions condemn the interference of the Armenian military in the political situation in Armenia. It will require political solutions and if needed elections to solve the controversies, keep Armenia on a path to democracy and build the country. A military coup will not do this. Many people are suffering from the current economic and social problems. Collective agreements are not respected and social dialogue is not existent. We ask the government to be in dialogue with the trade unions and ensure that trade union rights and collective agreements are adhered to.
Belarus has been gliding down a path of repression since the elections of August 2020. The results of these elections have been contested because of fraud by organisations outside of the country but especially by many people inside. Workers and communities have staged marches, strikes and many other forms of protests. These have been repressed and many people including trade unionists and journalist have ended up in jail. They are facing long jail sentences for expressing their opinion and engaging in demonstrations. We condemn these actions by the government. We support the demand to end the police and security forces’ violence. Those responsible should be brought to an independent and fair trial. Those detained for expressing their opinion and for engaging in democratic protests should be set free. Workers should be allowed to organise in the union of their choice and workers’ and trade union rights should be respected.
The situation in Georgia is volatile as well. Opposition leaders have been under pressure, sometimes facing arrest. The political turmoil leaves many workers in dire straits as the economy is doing badly. Social dialogue is suffering and unions are not part and parcel of the discussions to improve the economic and social situation. We call on the government and parliament to focus on the economic and social situation and work with the trade unions to develop a recovery plan for fair and environmentally sustainable growth for Georgia.
The attacks on the trade unions in Ukraine are not acceptable. The government and government party in the Parliament have introduced proposals for legislative change to the trade union law and to the labour that would weaken the position of the unions and the workers. Proposals of the unions are not taken into consideration. The trade union houses and other properties of the unions are constantly being attacked. EU, ILO and other international bodies like the UN Economic and Social Rights Commission have condemned this. We ask the government to refrain from these aggressions and work with the unions to solve problems.
All countries in the region are severely impacted by the pandemic. Health and social care systems have been under constant duress since the start of the pandemic, now a year ago. Many health and social care workers have been infected, stress is high and vaccination in several countries is lagging behind. We support the call of many organisations and governments to make the vaccines freely available and to waive patent rights so more countries can produce them. We thank all public service workers for their tremendous work during this extraordinary year. Workers delivering public services have shown how our economies and societies rely on you. We look forward to celebrate this with you on 23 June, the UN public service day.
The English version of text is cross-posted from the EPSU website.