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HRW urges Kyrgyz Parliament to reject amendments to trade union law

The Parliament of Kyrgyzstan should reject amendments to the trade union law. The international human rights organization Human Rights Watch says in a statement.

According to human rights activists, the draft amendments to trade union law would severely inhibit independent trade union organizing and violate international labor treaties to which Kyrgyzstan is a party. Parliament should reject the amendments when they are presented for a third reading.

«The draft amendments would require industry and regional trade unions to join a higher-tier national confederation, the Kyrgyzstan Federation of Trade Unions. The federation, which would be the only union recognized by the federal government, would have the authority to approve charters and other activities of lower-tier unions, severely limiting their ability to operate independently,» the organization says.

«This law would cripple independent trade unions in Kyrgyzstan, undermining workers’ right to organize,» said Laura Mills, Europe and Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. «Kyrgyzstan should be protecting and facilitating freedom of association, not finding ways to undermine it.»

On October 3, 2019, the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan passed the bill in a second reading by 84 out of 120 votes.

The International Labour Organization, of which Kyrgyzstan has been a member since 1992, said the law would create a «monopoly» on union organizing, and urged lawmakers to revise the bill to maintain «trade union diversity.» It said the draft violates key international conventions on freedom of association: Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining. Kyrgyzstan is a party to both conventions.

«This new law would critically undermine trade unions, which are key to defending workers’ rights and interests in the workplace,» Laura Mills stressed. «Kyrgyzstan’s parliament should show its commitment to fundamental human rights and freedoms by rejecting this bill in its current form.»

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