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FOR THE PERIOD 2002-2007

Resolution by GCTU 4th Congress

The first phase in the political and economic formation of the New Independent States is over. The countries and peoples of the CIS met the 21st century in the midst of reform, fitting themselves gradually into the structure of the world economy. This has largely told on the struggles being waged by trade unions in the Commonwealth for a clear-cut social orientation of economic decision-taking, protection of the workers' social and labour rights and interests, preservation and creation of jobs, increased pay, reduced arrears of wages, and health and safety at the workplace, and against the degradation of labour legislation, curtailment of trade union rights and freedoms, and regressive social policies.

This Congress of the General Confederation of Trade Unions notes that, over the last few years, the Commonwealth countries have gone through a period of relative economic stabilisation resulting mainly from the favourable business situation that has come out of the sale of raw materials on the world markets. Simultaneously, their own potential for production development has been realised poorly. The investment in the real sector of economy has been insufficient. The process of moral and physical depreciation of their capital assets has been going on.

The positive trends in the economic development and the work done by the trade unions have led to a certain rise in workers' real incomes and living standards. However, the majority of the population have not noticed any cardinal changes for the better in their living standards. Work remuneration rates in many of the countries are less than two dollars a day, while the minimum wages do not even match the subsistence minimum, with many social benefits abolished. The number of unemployed is almost 11 million people. The inefficient attention paid to the problems of occupational health and safety has been the primary cause for the numerous fatal accidents. A considerable number of citizens have no access to quality health care and education, health resorts, and rest and recreation facilities. In some countries, the social insurance schemes have been curtailed, and the retirement age has been raised in spite of the falling life expectancy.

The Congress considers that the economic and social situation prevailing in the CIS countries as they proceed vigorously into the world economy, will prevent them from fully enjoying globalisation advantages. With the international competition growing stronger, the situation in the countries may get even more complicated, as many inefficient enterprises and even whole industries may be liquidated, jobs may be cut, and, consequently, unemployment will go up, migration flows will increase, and the living standards will drop.

The bitter competition in the context of continued economic liberalisation will cause cuts in social expenditures, which will largely reduce the level of social protection, undermine the labour rights security, increase the inequality of access to health care, education and culture, and aggravate the ecological situation.

The current global processes will inevitably increase the number of transnational corporations and small businesses operating in the Commonwealth states. Already now, with the appearance of first transnationals in CIS countries, there are increasingly frequent attempts to abuse national social and labour legislation, block the establishment and activity of trade union organisations, and impede collective accords and agreements.

The Congress is confident that the adverse consequences of CIS countries joining the global market can be alleviated through their broad integration, as well as through effective national socio-economic policies. This process has so far been rather complicated and inconsistent. On this path, the Commonwealth has encountered extremely serious difficulties, both of internal and external character.

The Congress believes that the complexity of our times calls for a fundamental reassessment of the essence of trade union activity in our region, and for a change in the forms and methods of trade union work aiming to adapt them to the challenges of globalisation and the specific nature of the integration processes going on in the CIS territory. The need to strengthen the GCTU becomes obvious if we are to enhance trade union influence on decision-making in the region.

While recognising as its top priorities:

  • consistent struggle for decent work, gradual improvement of the working and living conditions, and workers' rights and interests;
  • extension and promotion of trade union rights and freedoms;
  • securing equal opportunities and equal treatment for men and women, and eradication of all other forms of discrimination;
  • actions to promote the CIS countries' transition to sustainable development providing for a balanced solution of socio-economic tasks and environmental problems,
           the General Confederation of Trade Unions must work for their realisation in the region.
  • Proceeding from the new circumstances, the Congress deems it necessary for the GCTU to concentrate its efforts in 2002-2007 along the following main lines of activity:

    I. Joint action by CIS trade unions to protect the workers' rights and interests

    To avert further inequality and poverty in the countries of the Commonwealth, the GCTU will do its utmost to help increase trade union influence on the formulation and implementation of national policies aimed at ensuring respect of human rights, decent work, constructive social dialogue, social insurance, and concrete measures to raise the population's living standards.

    The GCTU will constantly review the employment situation, and analyse the measures taken by the states to promote employment, enhance the quality and competitiveness of the workforce, prevent discrimination, and render material support to the unemployed. Together with the national trade union centres, the Confederation will initiate the elaboration and fulfilment of job creation projects, systems of permanent and accessible training, including retraining and professional development of the unemployed. The experience accumulated in the field will be summarised, and corresponding recommendations will be issued based thereupon. Particular attention will be paid to the problem of youth, women and socially vulnerable sections of the population.

    Special priority will be given to increasing the real wages and ensuring their timely payment, narrowing the pay gap, and non-discrimination in the sphere of work remuneration. The GCTU will continue co-ordinating such activities, based on the collection, evaluation and analysis of wage and salary statistics received from CIS countries, and on the elaboration of proper recommendations.

    The Confederation will in every way support the struggles waged by workers for minimum pay equal to the subsistence minimum (minimum consumer basket). This work will be co-ordinated, and measures will be taken for practical accomplishment of the task by all available means.

    The GCTU will co-ordinate more closely the work by its affiliated organisations aimed at improving their national labour legislation on the basis of the Concept of a Model Labour Code adopted by the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (IPA) in December 2000.

    The Confederation will further provide legal protection to trade union members whenever their cases require the application of standards adopted at the interstate (intergovernmental) level.

    The GCTU will formulate and pursue a common policy of Commonwealth trade unions in the sphere of labour safety and environmental protection, with the purpose of preserving the established guarantees and requirements and enhancing the responsibility of state bodies and employers for securing healthy and safe workings conditions. Particular emphasis will be laid on issues of ecological security and health and safety at transnational enterprises and joint ventures.

    The Confederation will work for the improvement and broader coverage of social security and for the development of social insurance schemes, and withstand any attempts to dismantle them.

    Common principles of activity will be worked out for trade unions in the Commonwealth, together with the recommendations as to how governmental support should be secured for health care, and how free medical services and accessible treatment in the resorts and spas should be retained.

    The GCTU will contribute towards improving the economic status of old-age pensioners, keep an analytical eye on the pension reforms carried out in CIS countries, and co-ordinate its affiliates' efforts in the sphere. It will insist that the provisions of the Concept of State Support of Older People should be embodied in practical national policies of the CIS states.

    The GCTU will participate in the formulation and fulfilment of youth policies both for the Commonwealth as a whole, and for separate CIS countries. Providing decent work to the younger workers in industrial production and services must become part and parcel of the social systems in all CIS countries.

    Taking guidance primarily from the UN and ILO instruments, the Confederation will promote the conditions for actual gender equality at work and in the socio-political and socio-economic spheres.

    To carry out the above tasks, maximum use will be made of the statutory rights and the system of social partnership.

    II. Integration as an essential prerequisite for improving the living standards in the CIS states. Building a common social and labour space

    The GCTU will use its formal status to actively promote integration processes in the CIS region, and in every possible way contribute to formulating an economic policy encouraging further development of integration links among the states. Together with its affiliates, it will accentuate the necessity for the CIS interstate and national authorities to analyse thoroughly the eventual consequences of CIS countries joining the world economy in order to be able to alleviate their negative economic and social impact. To help revive and expand production, secure employment and raise the population's living standards, the Confederation will give the utmost encouragement to establishing a single economic space and a free trade zone, shaping a co-ordinated tax and tariff policy, and solving social problems in accordance with the Programme of Development of the Commonwealth of Independent States for the Period to 2005 adopted by the CIS Council of Heads of State in June 2000.

    Special attention will be paid to building a common labour market as stipulated by the Concept of the Gradual Establishment of a Common Labour Market and the Regulation of Workforce Migration in the Countries of the CIS, approved by the CIS Economic Council in December 2000. For this purpose, the GCTU will make for the rapprochement and harmonisation of the CIS countries' legislative systems, improvement of the intersectoral basis of labour standards, setting up a common educational space, and mutual recognition of diplomas and workers' qualifications.

    The GCTU will analyse the labour migration flows and the levels of protection of migrant workers' rights, submit its proposals to the relevant interstate authorities, and demand the adoption of a Convention on Migrant Workers.

    Measures will be taken to bring the national schemes of social insurance, social security, labour safety and environment protection in line with the universally accepted standards and requirements ensuring the maximum protection of workers against social risks. The GCTU will insist that a mechanism be worked out allowing for affordable health service for the citizens of the Commonwealth countries. It will press for the establishment of common principles in what concerns awarding and calculating the amounts of old-age pensions to citizens who worked in one CIS country and took up permanent residence in another.

    The GCTU will promote the creation of favourable conditions for maintaining friendly ties in different spheres of cultural exchange, free communication and friendship of the CIS nations. It will contribute to the arrangement of sporting events, festivals, and folk arts exhibitions.

    To cope with the tasks, the GCTU will strengthen its co-operation with the CIS authorities, other organisations set up within the Commonwealth, and intergovernmental and industrial bodies. The Confederation will further make expert appraisals of IPA draft model codes, and, if requested by its members, of national draft laws and other regulatory and legal acts in the sphere of social and labour relations.

    III. Development and consolidation of the trade union movement in the region. Facing up to new challenges. Systems of training trade union personnel and their professional development

    The GCTU will take steps to consolidate the trade union movement in the region, enhance its unity and solidarity, co-ordinate co-operation between the national trade union centres and the industrial Trade Union Internationals, intensify its efforts to prevent separatism in the unions, and render assistance to the national trade union centres and industrial TUIs in strengthening their organisational unity.

    To increase the numbers and strengthen the positions of trade unions, and involve broader working masses in their activity, the GCTU will promote stronger motivation for workers to organise. Particular emphasis will be given to the necessity of a purpose- oriented trade union policy in relation to youth, women and veterans.

    Considering the current trends in the production pattern, the increased individualisation of labour and other changes in the composition of wage workforce, the GCTU will energetically seek solutions to the problems of improving the structure of trade unions, and for novel forms of their activity.

    With that end in view, the Confederation will investigate trade union work in small enterprises, summarise and propagate the relevant practices of its affiliates and foreign experience, and draw up recommendations for methods of working.

    The GCTU will continue its search for the optimal forms of trade union organisation in joint ventures and in the TNCs and finance-industrial groups operative on the territory of the CIS, and reject their attempts to create "union-free environments". It will help their trade union organisations to exercise their rights and use their possibilities as provided for by international instruments.

    Arrangements will be made for developing a system of training leading representatives of the national trade union centres and industrial Trade Union Internationals. Assistance will be rendered them in organising courses for the leaders of their member organisations, bodies and union activists.

    The GCTU's activity will be conducive to practical implementation of decisions taken by the governing bodies of its affiliated organisations in what concerns stricter executive discipline and enhanced responsibility of trade union bodies at all levels and their leaders.

    The Confederation will further help its affiliated organisations to protect their property, perfect the mechanisms of its management to ensure its more efficient use, and build effective financial policies.

    The GCTU will carry on its consistent and decisive struggle for the respect of trade union rights and freedoms and for the improvement of the legal basis of trade union activity. It will work out measures to defend trade unions and their elected leaders against persecution for performance of their duties.

    IV. GCTU as an integral part of the international trade union movement. Trade union solidarity

    The international activity of the GCTU will proceed from the requirements of its affiliates and from the objective community of interests of the world trade union movement in the conditions of globalisation. This activity must be a logical extension of the international policies of the member organisations, represent their common interests on the international arena, and supplement and underpin their efforts. International experience must be placed at the service of workers in the CIS, and it must make for more efficient participation of trade unions in resolving economic ans. social problems in the Commonwealth countries.

    With this aim in view, the GCTU will pursue a policy of strengthening further its positions as a regional organisation of the world trade union community. Its relations with the world and regional trade union centres will be built on the principles of openness for dialogue, ideological impartiality and mutual respect. The Confederation will continue its line for practical co-operation with major international trade union organisations, whether global (ICFTU, WFTU and WCL), or regional (OATUU, ICATU and others). In the context of an expanding European Union, particular attention will be paid to regular contacts with the European Trade Union Confederation, given its useful experience in co-operation with the EC authorities and European employers' federations aimed at the protection of workers' economic and social interests in the process of integration.

    The GCTU will proceed with its active search for ways to a unity of trade union action that should be based on respect of the present-day structural and political diversity in the world trade union community. Steps will be taken to make the voice of the GCTU and its affiliates duly heard in the ICFTU-initiated global discussion about the future set-up of the international trade union movement. The Confederation will express its solidarity with the struggles by workers and their trade unions in different countries in defence of their rights. It will give concrete support to the campaigns carried out by the world's trade unions for socially protected work, full and productive employment, social and political equality of workers irrespective of their race, sex, ethnic identity or religion, and against infringement of working people's socio-economic interests, violation of human rights, attacks on trade union rights, poverty and social exclusion.

    Together with all trade unions in the world, the Confederation will resolutely fight against the negative consequences of the globalising world economy, and against the omnipotence of transnational capital and international monetary and trade institutions. Considering that some CIS countries have joined, or intend to join, the World Trade Organisation, the CGTU will organise an exchange of information with trade unions in the countries that are long-standing WTO members with the purpose of using their experience for the protection of workers' rights and interests in the Commonwealth countries, and supply the information thus gained to its affiliated organisations.

    Based on its own experience, the GCTU will spell out its tasks as a regional trade union centre in the International Labour Organisation. Jointly with the Workers' Group, the GCTU and its affiliates will resolutely uphold the role of the ILO as the only tripartite social UN agency, insist on the preservation of its standard-setting activity, and contribute to the strengthening of its supervisory mechanism. The Confederation will call on the international and regional trade union centres to submit to the ILO a joint memorandum explaining their view on the objectives of its further activity. The GCTU will continue its efforts to get the CIS states to ratify and observe strictly those ILO Conventions that are vital to the workers and trade unions of the Commonwealth. It will assist the ILO in promoting the principles of decent work and the provisions of the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and in practical implementation of the active partnership policy in the Commonwealth. The Confederation will enlist the ILO potential for joint research in the sphere of economic and social development and labour relations in the CIS region. In this connection, it will establish closer relations with the ILO regional offices in Moscow and Budapest. The GCTU will work for active and full-fledged participation of the CIS national trade union centres in the sessions of the International Labour Conferences, and the Trade Union Internationals in the work of ILO industry committees.

    The General Confederation of Trade Unions will further represent and advocate the common interests of CIS trade unions in the UN specialised agencies dealing with social problems, first of all, in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and, more specifically, in its Commissions for Social Development and on the Status of Women. As an organisation enjoying formal status at the above agencies, the GCTU will help enhance the social dimension of UN policies. It will make a more active use of the channels of the UN Department of Public Information to promote information on CIS trade unions and social problems in the United Nations, and, vice versa, information on UN activity in the Commonwealth countries.

    The GCTU will establish a closer link between the task of studying, summarising and propagating experience accumulated by trade unions in market and transition economies, and the current needs of its affiliated organisations. The Confederation will make it a more regular practice to hold, jointly with the ILO and international and regional trade union organisations, seminars, conferences and workshops for representatives of its member organisations on burning issues of trade union activity.

    V. Raising information support of GCTU activity to a new level

    The GCTU will radically improve the information support of its activity. Additional measures will be taken to build an integrated information system for trade unions in the CIS countries incorporating both the affiliated organisations and other interested parties, enhance the quality and promptitude of information, and master new information technologies. The Confederation will undertake the role of the main link in the information system, and co-ordinate its operation in the region. Based on the effective Concept of Information Activity, it will build a single electronic data base along the main lines of trade union activity.

    The Confederation will regularly supply its affiliates with information, both through the electronic channels and through trade union mass media. In the future, the GCTU information system will be made available not only to the GCTU member organisations, but also to trade union bodies and organisations affiliated with them, and to the trade union structures in TNCs.

    The GCTU and its affiliates will notify one another of their information programs and make arrangements for their co-ordination, which will enable them to pool their efforts, render mutual information and resource support, and master advanced technologies. Data received from the GCTU will be conveyed down to their component structures, which will make it possible for them to acquaint their members with the activity of the Confederation and all fraternal trade union centres.

    The Confederation will step up its efforts to build a true image of trade unions in public opinion, popularise their place and role in society, increase the numbers of trade union supporters, and recruit new union members. To achieve this aim, the GCTU's activity will be made transparent, publicity will be given to specific actions in defence of workers' interests, and the public will be kept informed of the positions taken by trade union bodies and their leaders on crucial issues and events in public life and social development.

    While maintaining active contacts with the mass media, the GCTU will establish and run its own media and accomplish information projects oriented towards union members and the broader public.

    The modernised GCTU information system will be used to extend the mutually beneficial links with the world trade union community, and consolidate the Confederation's stance in the world trade unions' information net.

    * * *

    The GCTU 4th Congress is confident that the realisation of the above tasks will result in the improved forms and methods of the Confederation's activity, and enhance the prestige of the GCTU and its affiliated organisations in the struggle for the working people's economic and social interests.