BWI meets Belarusian opposition leader

(L-R: IndustriAll General Secretary Valter Sanches, Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson and Tsikhanouskaya's staff. Photo: IndustriAll)

Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya met with BWI and fellow global labour unions on 10 March in Switzerland as part of efforts to build international pressure for strongman Alexander Lukashenko to relinquish power.

Tsikhanouskaya, a human rights activist who ran as the main opposition candidate in the 2020 Belarusian presidential election, was personally met by BWI General Secretary Ambet  Yuson and several other global union leaders. The meeting was broadcasted live online so that other trade union leaders can participate. 

BWI expressed to Tsikhanouskaya their solidarity to Belarusian trade unionists who organised different forms of democratic and peaceful actions to protest the alleged massive electoral fraud in their country. It also discussed the key role to be played by independent and democratic trade unions in the building of a democratic Belarus. 

Yuson said that BWI affiliates and fellow global unions have closely followed the protests in Belarus and expressed in different ways their solidarity to the Belarusian workers’ struggle for democracy.

“Belarus’ construction workers have shown amazing courage with their strikes despite the existence of only one union, state-controlled for that matter, in the construction industry. Their bravery is inspiring. We have no doubt that they will soon be organised into independent and democratic trade unions,” Yuson said. 

Three days before the meeting, BWI participated in a solidarity rally for Belarus in Geneva, which was also attended by Tsikhanouskaya. BWI called on all business groups that have commercial interests in Belarus to be mindful of the country's deteriorating human rights situation and support calls for workers to freely express their discontent without fear of being fired from their jobs.