The role of trade unions in Central Asia in mitigating the consequences of natural disasters and conflicts in the region

Participants of the sub-regional trade union workshop in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (7-9 July 2022) discussed how to promote peace, prevent crises, ensure recovery and build resilience, including emergencies, including those associated with the pandemic, through social dialogue and other means of collective action COVID-19.

News | 10 July 2022
The training seminar was attended by the International Trade Union Confederation, the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan, the National Confederation of Trade Unions of Moldova and the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

In his opening speech, Anton Leppik, Executive Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation (the Pan European regional council of ITUC), spoke about the Common Security 2022 initiative and the results of the analysis carried out by the Olof Palme International Center on some of the major challenges facing humanity today.

Over the past few years, Central Asia has experienced several crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war and migration crisis in Afghanistan, social unrest in Kazakhstan, and unprecedented sanctions against the Russian Federation that have affected the situation throughout the subregion.

It was noted that in order for Central Asian unions to mitigate the impact of crises and ensure a better future for workers and their families, they need to refer to the guidance of ILO Recommendation 205 on Employment and Decent Work in order to ensure peace and resilience. Part of the response should be joint action and solidarity among trade unions across the subregion, including through the newly established Council of Trade Unions of Central Asia.

In his presentation, Sergejus Glovackas, ACTRAV Desk officer for Europe and Central Asia (ILO/ACTRAV), spoke about the results of the 110th session of the International Labour Conference. He paid particular attention to the role of trade unions in conflict prevention and resolution, disaster relief and peace building. He noted that Recommendation No. 205 provides trade unions with tools and windows of opportunity for trade union intervention in the context of conflict resolution and disaster prevention.

Representatives of trade unions of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Uzbekistan made presentations on the actions of trade unions to mitigate crises caused by the growing number of refugees from Ukraine, as well as to overcome the consequences of military conflicts and humanitarian disasters.

The participants were presented with the ACTRAV-ACTEMP joint Publication: Managing Conflicts and Disasters: Exploring Collaboration between Employers’ and Workers’ Organizations which allowed them to discuss the experience of Central Asian countries in the interaction of trade unions with employers and their organizations in the prevention and elimination of the consequences of natural disasters and conflicts.

In the course of the group work, the role of trade unions in conditions of instability, conflicts and natural disasters was worked out, a strategic vision of trade unions was developed and ways of coordination between trade unions were identified, including within the framework of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asia.

In his closing remarks, Gocha Aleksandria, Senior Specialist on Workers' Activities of the ILO's Bureau for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, emphasized that “trade unions can and must act as agents and agents of change and a source of solidarity and peace. They must rethink their positioning, taking into account the essence of ongoing conflicts and disasters, in order to strengthen their role, expand their activities and reach out to workers.”