ILO experts and trade unions in Central Asia discuss workplace safety in the region

On June 23, 2023 a two-day Regional Conference of Trade Unions of Central Asia on “The role of trade unions in ensuring occupational safety and health and the effective functioning of the labour inspectorate” opened in Astana. It was organized by the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan under the auspices of the International Labour Organization.

News | 23 June 2023

Participants of the forum – trade union leaders from national trade union centers of member states of the Trade Union Council of Central Asia (CCATU) – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as representatives of trade unions of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, experts of the International Labour Organization, social partners consider topical issues in the field of labour safety and security in Central Asia, and discuss mechanisms for improving the effectiveness of occupational safety measures.

Welcoming his colleagues, Satybaldy Dauletalin, Secretary General of the CCATU – Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan, noted the importance of sharing experience and developing joint action by Central Asian trade unions to improve occupational safety and health, compliance with and further implementation of international occupational safety standards in legislation.

“For all of us, ensuring occupational safety and health is without exaggeration the most important issue in the field of labour. The current year has been declared the Year of Safe Labour by the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan,” stressed Satybaldy Dauletalin.
At the same time, the head of the RK Federation of Trade Unions noted that, despite the measures taken, we cannot yet speak of significant positive changes in the field of labour safety.
The Federation of Trade Unions was actively involved in the development of the draft Concept of Safe Work in the Republic of Kazakhstan until 2030, which includes a number of trade union initiatives.

 “Another important issue is the transfer of the state labour inspectorate from local executive bodies to the direct subordination of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection with an increase in the number of state inspectors and the expansion of their powers,” stressed Satybaldy Dauletalin.

In his welcoming speech Sergejus Glovackas, Head of Europe and Central Asia Department of the ILO Bureau for Workers’ Activities (ACTRAV/ILO), noted the increased level of international cooperation of the Central Asian Council of Trade Unions.

 “The ILO actively promotes occupational safety and health issues. Recent tragic events in Kazakhstan related to fires in the Abay region, which took lives, once again confirm the importance of safe work. Today among Central Asian countries only Kazakhstan has ratified ILO fundamental Conventions Nos 155 and 187. Occupational safety and health issues have been addressed at the International Labour Conference in Geneva. In October the ILO and CAREC will hold an important meeting on climate change, which is also related to occupational safety systems. Climate has a direct impact on working conditions and occupational safety, especially in the Central Asian region,” said Sergeus Glovackas.

Addressing the conference participants, Akmadi Sarbasov, social partner and First Vice Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Kazakhstan, informed the participants about the state policy on the development of the social and labour sphere in Kazakhstan.
“In April, the Head of State signed the Social Code, which came into force on July 1. It is the first comprehensive document, which reflects all measures of state support of citizens throughout their life cycle – from birth to old age”, said Akmadi Sarbasov.
He called it symbolic that the Regional Conference was held right after the approval of the Road Map on the development of the Safe Labour Concept on June 19.

“As for harmful working conditions, we understand that there is a large proportion of workers engaged in harmful working conditions – it is about 30% or 1.6 million workers. However, only 10% of workers today are covered by compulsory health insurance. If you compare with developed countries, these statistics do not speak in our favor. Today we need to take more decisive measures to save labour resources and there is a valuable experience that we have, including the International Labour Organization. I hope we will get substantive recommendations based on the results of this conference”, – stressed the First Vice-Minister of MLSP of the RK.

In turn, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Tajikistan Ismoil Faizizoda noted that the topic of labour safety is relevant for his country. It’s time for trade unions in the Central Asian region to unite in this direction, and it is gratifying that we are already discussing these issues at the Regional Conference”, said Ismoil Fayzizoda.
Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan Kobiljon Kirgizaliyev in his speech spoke about measures to improve the effectiveness of social control.

Rysgul Babaeva, deputy chair of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan, focused on problematic issues of ensuring the safety of Kyrgyz workers.

Allamyrat Sakhetmyradov, Chairman of the Audit Commission of the National Center of Trade Unions of Turkmenistan, reported on the activities of the Trade Union Commission on Occupational Safety and Health.

António Santos, Laboгr Regulation, Laboгr Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health, ILO Office for Eastern Europ

According to the international expert, the national policy in the field of labour protection should provide measures for the prevention of accidents at work, clearly distribute the functions and responsibilities of state agencies, employers and workers, as well as provide training and motivation in achieving the appropriate level of labour protection.
Concluding the first day of the conference Sergejus Glovackas, Head of Europe and Central Asia Department of ACTRAV/ILO, noted its fruitful work.

 “The participants presented a complete picture of the state of occupational safety and health in the Central Asian region. The best specialists on labour rights are retained in trade unions. We need to develop this potential, so tomorrow together we will develop proposals for further implementation of measures to ensure occupational safety and health,” he concluded.