Kyrgyzstan: President vetoes anti-trade union law, workers claim victory

(Stock photo: Pre-COVID-19)

Kyrgyzstan President Sadyr Zhaparov on 22 May vetoed a law that will restrict the scope of trade union activities, dictate the internal structure of trade unions and place trade unions under the control of state bodies.

This was after the country’s trade unions, particularly the BWI-affiliated Construction and Building Materials Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan, urged Zhaparov to veto the law and sit down with Kyrgys trade unionists to restart discussions on the passage of a new law that will truly respond to the needs of workers. 

For the last two years, Kyrgyzstan’s trade unions have been blocking the measure. In response, the authorities, on trumped-up charges, opened criminal cases against the leaders of the protesting trade unions and removed them from their posts. Trade union leaders and activists become targets of arrests, constant interrogations, provocations, and pressure. Union offices and union leaders' homes were ransacked, and union bank accounts seized. Last year, Kanatbek Osmonov, Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan (FTUKg) and President of the Kyrgyzstan Forestry Workers Union, was criminally charged and put under house arrest. 

To support the country’s trade unionists, BWI launched an international campaign calling on the Kyrgyzstan government to cease from harassing workers and abandon the proposed anti-worker law.

“We would like to thank BWI for its solidarity and support to our fight against this anti-worker measure. The international trade union pressure on the Kyrgyzstan authorities contributed to our success and demonstrated the power of unions. Our fight for labour and trade union rights is not over, but we do believe that the democratic trade union movement of Kyrgyzstan will grow stronger with this victory,” said Eldiiar Karachalov, President of the Construction and Building Materials Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan.


BWI Regional Representative Coen van der Veer congratulated Karachalov and all the trade unions that joined the fight to oppose the measure. “BWI and her affiliates in and beyond the Pan-European region will stand together against any attack on the freedom of association and right to collective bargaining. Workers are very capable of designing their own unions. The governments in the region should focus on enabling and facilitating true and meaningful dialogues at all levels to serve the people better rather than attack workers’ rights,” he said.