GENNADY BYKOV was elected (by secret ballot) the Chair of the BFTU at the 5th Convention which took place on 24th April 1999. Gennady writes the following article as an introduction to the Belarusian Free Trade Union.
The Belarusian Free Trade Union is a National voluntary public organisation of workers united to express and protect their professional interests, labour, social and economic rights, which unites metal, energy, transport, chemical & other industry workers, teachers and doctors.
In 1991 there was a very bad economical, social and political situation in Belarus. The 'State' Trade Unions did not react, but workers strikes arose spontaneously and striking committees were founded. It was from these striking committees of the Belarusian workers in April-May 1991 that the BFTU was founded. The Constitutional Convention of the BFTU was held on November 16th 1991.
The Belarusian authorities did their best to get rid of the BFTU and it took until July 1992 to obtain
official registration. On August 21st 1995, the Belarusian President issued decree No. 336, which illegally
suspended the activities of the BFTU. The Belarusian Constitutional Court actually twice decided that
this decree was contrary to the Constitution of Belarus, its laws and other International legal acts
that had been previously ratified by the Republic of Belarus.
In order to survive and preserve the strength of the Union during the period of reprisals and suppression of the Minsk Metro strike in August 1995, when force was used against the workers, a decision was taken to create Free Trade Unions in branches of metal workers, teachers and transport workers.
The BFTU underwent through a 'repeated registration procedure' with the Ministry of Justice department on July 30th 1999 and obtained Registration Certificate No.034. (The repeated registration procedure is a law designed to make all the Free Trade Unions have to re-register every few years in the Governments hope that this proves sufficiently complex and onerous to the Unions that it proves a real disincentive for them to continue - a continual war of attrition).
To unite efforts of workers in order to protect their rights and legitimate interests; to provide for just and decent Labour remuneration; Health and Labour Safety and other social guarantees.
The BFTU structures are created to carry out their activities on professional, industrial, territorial and branch principles. Local Unions, which consist of at least 3 members, form the basis of the BFTU. Three and more BFTU local unions can create branch and regional organisations.
Individuals who are at least 14 years old; recognise BFTU statute; work at enterprises, institutions and organisations, studying in educational institutions as well as persons retired on pension and those temporarily unemployed can become BFTU members. Employers of persons, who perform their functions and have the right to conclude and terminate employment agreements, cannot become members of the Belarusian Free Trade Union.
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