15 September 2007

The 6th Congress of the General Confederation of Trade Unions, GCTU, took place in Moscow 14 September 2007. Attending the event were delegates of nine national trade union centres in CIS countries and 29 industrial Trade Union Internationals, honorary guests from interstate CIS agencies, the employers community, international trade union organisations, and journalists.

The Congress was opened and chaired by GCTU President Mikhail Shmakov. GCTU General Secretary Vladimir Scherbakov presented a report on GCTU activity in between the 4th and the 6th GCTU ordinary congresses (2002-07) and dwelt on its main results. Since the 4th GCTU Congress in 2002, the trade union movement of the CIS, he said, has been faced up with the growing processes of globalisation that make an increasingly adverse impact on workers situation. With the economies of CIS countries becoming more and more open to the world market, the main task for the unions is to help create conditions for decent work in the CIS countries. Trade unions see decent work first of all as a guaranteed job with decent pay, safe working conditions, social protection and social dialogue, said Vladimir Scherbakov.

The reporter called on the GCTU affiliates to concentrate, in the period to come, on attaining the following objectives:

- substantial increases in the average wages;

- minimum pay at least equal to the subsistence minimum rate;

- minimum pension not lower than the pensioners subsistence minimum, with its income replacement rate gradually approaching the internationally accepted threshold of 40 per cent;

- returning the insurance principles to all social protection projects, and securing trade union participation in the management of social insurance funds.

Report of the GCTU Control and Auditing Commission was presented by its chairman Vladimir Kanyshev.

Fourteen leaders of affiliated organisations took the floor during the debate on the reports, including Mikhail Shmakov (Russia), Guennady Arzhanov (TUI Building Workers), Olexander Yurkin (Ukraine), Siyazbek Mukashev (Kazakhstan), Vassily Bondarev (TUI Energy Workers), Sattar Mehbaliyev (Azerbaijan), Vladimir Naumchik (Belarus), Martin Harutyunian (Armenia), Leonid Kozik (Belarus), Murodali Salikhov (Tajikistan), Melik Mirzoyev (TUI Oil and Gas Workers), Sagyn Bozgunbayev (Kyrgyzstan), Irakli Petriashvili (Georgia), and Nickolay Nikiforov (TUI Railway Workers).

The Congress was also addressed by the representative of the ITUC Andrey Mrost and Vice President of the International Congress of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Vladimir Kolmogorov.

Congress amended the GCTU Constitution and the Regulations for the GCTU Control and Auditing Commission, adopted the following documents:

- Guidelines for the Activity of the General Confederation of Trade Unions in 2007-2012;

- Appeal to the Heads of State, Heads of Government and Speakers of Parliaments of the CIS countries concerning the Rate of Minimum Work Remuneration;

- Appeal to the Heads of State, Heads of Government and Chairpersons of Parliaments of the CIS countries Decent Living Conditions for Pensioners in the CIS Countries;

- Resolution On the Rights of Workers and Trade Unions;

- Resolution Labour Migration: a New Challenge for Trade Unions in the CIS Countries;

- Resolution On the Work with Youth;

- Resolution Labour Protection: a Principal Task for Trade Unions in the CIS Countries; and

- Statement on the 30th Anniversary of the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy

Congress elected the GCTU Council and the Executive Committee.

The leader of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia Mikhail Shmakov was elected President of the GCTU.

President of the CIS Federation of Timber and Related Industries Workers Unions Viktor Karnyushin was elected Vice President of the GCTU.

Vladimir Scherbakov was elected General Secretary of the GCTU.

At its first session held immediately after the congress, the GCTU Council elected Natalia Podshibyakina, Albert Potapov and Valery Yuriev as Deputy General Secretaries of the GCTU, while President of the TUI of Transport and Road Construction Workers Alexander Shurikov was elected Chairman of the Control and Auditing Commission.

The Congress received messages of greetings from President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Chairperson of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly and Speaker of the Council of the Federation of Russian Parliament Serguey Mironov, Executive Secretary of the CIS Vladimir Rushailo, General Secretary of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly Mikhail Krotov, and many other leaders of state and nongovernmental organisations of CIS countries.

According to the Guidelines, the struggle against poverty and for decent work for all will be the top priority for the GCTU in the period to come after the Congress. To accomplish this task, the Confederation and its affiliates will take further measures to strengthen and consolidate the trade union movement, develop a more effective system of social partnership, and promote the ILO Decent Work Agenda in the CIS area.

The GCTU will press for each Commonwealth country to pursue a socio-economic policy aiming to ensure respect for human and workers rights, decent work for all, establishment of a comprehensive social protection system, and a real increase in the living standards. On the whole, struggle will be waged for the building and functioning of social states.

Particular emphasis will be laid on promoting trade union activity in transnational corporations. The industrial Trade Union Internationals (TUIs) will help set up trade unions in transnational enterprises operative in CIS countries and get collective agreements and accords concluded therein. The TUIs will seek to establish dialogue with respective GUFs and with European industry federations affiliated to the PERC, and, among other things, jointly monitor the observance of framework global agreements signed between TNCs and GUFs.

The GCTU intends to follow closely labour migration trends in the Commonwealth, and insist on interstate decisions being taken to regulate labour migration and protect the rights of migrant workers.

In this world of globalisation, the GCTU will display with struggles waged internationally by trade unions against violation of union freedoms and human rights, against discrimination or social exclusion in all their forms and for decent work, full and productive employment, gender equality, eradication of child and forced labour, etc.

The Confederation will take efforts to strengthen its position in the radically changed structure of the world trade union movement as a regional trade union body for the CIS. Further steps will be taken to establish constructive cooperation with the ITUC and, in particular, with its Pan-European Regional Council. Simultaneously, traditional fraternal dialogue will be carried on with other international and regional trade union organisations. The GCTU will get more actively involved in the struggle by the worlds trade unions to change the nature of globalisation and mitigate its negative impact on working people.

The GCTU will support the world trade union campaign for the ILO historical mandate to be preserved and enhanced. It will struggle for retaining the ILOs tripartite nature and standard-setting activity. The Confederation intends to continue its control over the compliance by the CIS countries with the international labour standards. Jointly with the national trade union centres, it will monitor the ratification of essential ILO conventions.

As an NGO in consultative status with the ECOSOC and in association with the UN DPI, the Confederation will support and promulgate the UN activities aiming to strengthen the social component of world politics, settle the problems of sustainable development, eradicate abject poverty, put an end to economic underdevelopment and the lack of civil rights.

The GCTU will carry on its information activity striving to establish reliable information links within the trade union structure and contacts among its affiliates, and build a true image of trade unions as an efficient defender of workers rights in the eyes of CIS and world public opinion.