Workers' and Employers' organizations

Workers activities

Trade unions are one of the most numerous and influential public organizations in the region. Only under responsibility area of the ILO Moscow Office there are more than 50 million members of trade unions.

In many ways, thanks to the trade unions, in the transition to a market economy, the law preserved social and labour guarantees to workers, based on the foundations of social dialogue and tripartite cooperation.

With the domination of the market system and private capital flows the trade unions’ functions have changed from social services and control - to everyday struggle and protection of social and economic rights of workers.

Today's unions are facing serious challenges, from which depend the welfare of all workers and the future of the civilized labour relations, namely:
  • the growing number of violations of trade union rights (dismissals, threats, physical attacks, arrests for trade union activities);
  • increasing cases of spontaneous strikes and unregulated labour conflicts;
  • growing proliferation of unprotected forms of employment, with all the consequences emanating (forced and child labour, trafficking in human beings and clandestine labour migration and informal economy ) decreasing and aging membership base.
Accordingly, the priorities of the Bureau of workers activities in the region are:
  • prevention of violations, respect for and promotion;
  • improving the quality and coverage of collective bargaining and agreements;
  • increasing the role of trade unions in resolving labor disputes;
  • promotion of minimum levels of social protection for all workers;
  • education and training of professional trade union activists and specialists;
  • full-fledged participation of trade unions in development and implementation of national policies in the world of labor.
To achieve these goals, we work closely with our trade unions’ partners in the region and, if necessary, provide them with guidance and advice in the following areas:
  • to conduct a research work; to train for and prepare activists and specialist;
  • to conduct information and education work;
  • advocacy in shaping strategy and organization’s policy;
  • to provide international experience and good practices in the sphere of competent participation in the institutions of social partnership.
Trade unions of the region are actively involved in the development and implementation of ILO policies, promotion and observance of international labour standards, ILO values and principles.

Employers’ Activities

Employers play a key role in creating jobs, increasing national wealth and improving living conditions. Strong and independent Employers’ Organizations (EOs) set up and functioning according to the standards and principles of freedom of association are vital for tripartite social dialogue on labour and social issues. Employers' Organizations help to create the conditions for enterprise success, productivity growth and economic development by influencing the environment in which enterprises do business and by providing services that improve their individual performance.

Employers’ Organizations did not exist in this region in the Soviet times; the first ones were created during the transition of the early 1990s. While all countries now have some form of a national employers’ organization, many are weak in terms of their influence and membership coverage and are struggling to make ends meet with limited staff and expertise, while others are focused on economic issues to the exclusion of labour and social matters.

Thus, Employers’ Organizations in the region face the dual challenges of becoming more strategic and expanding their membership, while increasing their capacity to engage with governments and trade unions in policymaking on labour and social issues. To expand membership, EOs need to provide new services and improve the quality of existing ones. To adequately participate in policymaking, they must build technical expertise on a range of social and labour issues.

Therefore ILO Moscow is working to strengthen the capacity of the Employers’ Organizations with a focus on their further development as representative organizations – the true voice of employers - in their countries. This is being achieved through:
  • training of EO senior management on operational issues such as design and implementation of sound governance practices, sustainable business plans, successful advocacy and communication strategy, adequate and sustainable income generation mechanisms for employers organizations;
  • assisting EOs in developing new services for their members, in particular in providing training to employers on lobbying, business management, collective bargaining, negotiation and conflict management skills; and
  • building the EOs’ technical expertise to enable them to be fully engaged in social dialogue on labour and social issues, including social security, occupational safety and health in the workplace, equal treatment for women and men, combating trafficking, child labour and forced labour, and fighting the spread of HIV AIDS through education in the workplace.
Our main message is that employers should be actively engaged on labour and social issues, since these affect their business and the workers they employ. The best way to achieve such involvement is building a strong association that represents their views. We also encourage EOs to expand their membership while maintaining their independence and to encourage their members to promote corporate social responsibility.