European unions express support for Kyrgyzstani and Swedish workers

BWI’s European Regional Committee (ERC) expressed its solidarity to Kyrgystani and Swedish trade unionists who are in the middle of important fights to defend labour rights. The global union’s European affiliates issued the statements of support during its regional committee meeting held from 17 to 19 November, which was attended by more than 50 trade union leaders in the region. 

In an emergency resolution,BWI-ERC extended its support for the Kyrgyzstani workers' struggle against their government’s attempt to introduce a measure seeking to amend the country’s trade union law. It joined BWI-affiliated Construction and Building Materials Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan’s call to its Parliament to immediately withdraw the measure saying that it would cripple trade union organising and is in violation of international labour treaties. It also strongly urged the Kyrgyzstan government to immediately withdraw all baseless criminal accusations against trade union leaders. 

In the same breath, BWI-ERC, in a statement, gave its all-out support for Byggnads, the Swedish union of construction workers, which threatened to launch a massive strike over employer federation Byggföretagen’s reluctance to address industry-wide work-related fatal accidents during their collective bargaining negotiations. It condemned the employer group’s lack of interest in addressing the union’s health and safety concerns in Sweden’s construction industry. If the strike pushes through, it will affect 87 workplaces and 1,400 workers across the country.

On 5 November, several Kyrgyzstani parliamentarians introduced a measure seeking to amend the country’s labour law despite the absence of a quorum. Trade union president Eldiar Karachalov said the bill threatens the very existence of his country’s trade unions. 

Meanwhile, Swedish construction workers last week threatened to go on strike after the employer’s federation declined to prioritise addressing the growing number of industry-wide work-related accidents in their collective bargaining negotiations, focusing instead on amending pay systems, working hours and reducing the influence of trade unionists at workplaces. 

Below is  video of Karachalov explaining to the BWI ERC their struggle to fight their government’s latest attempt to undermine labour rights in the country.