Peer-to-peer Exchange among Trade Unions in the Context of the COVID-19 Crisis

On June 2, an online discussion was conducted between the Federation of independent trade unions of Tajikistan (FITUT) and the Federation of trade unions of the Republic of Uzbekistan (FTUU). They discussed trade union experiences of protecting workers against COVID-19 in the workplaces and promoting measures to mitigate the impact of social-economic crises on the most vulnerable workers and their families.

News | 02 June 2020

Tajikistan is the country hardest hit in the Central Asia by COVID-19 pandemic, and its unions are interested to learn from experiences of their immediate neighbours. In response to their request, ILO Bureau for Workers Activities (ACTRAV) supported exchange of information between FTUU and FITUT on policies and trade union actions that proved to be effective in protecting workers from getting infected on the workplaces and helping them to retain jobs and livelihoods.

At the request of the Tajik trade unions the meeting was also attended by the leaders of the healthcare workers trade unions of the two countries. It was stressed that healthcare workers who provide first assistance were most affected by unsafe working conditions and even to date they are experiencing lack of personal protective equipment and remain overworked. Tajik trade unions described several cases when union leaders contracted the virus while performing their duties. One of such cases resulted in the tragic death of the President of the Utilities Sector Workers Trade Union.   
The two trade unions discussed mutual support plans that would be complementary to and go beyond the already established active Tajik-Uzbek cooperation at the government level.

As an introduction into the discussion Mr. Sergeyus Glovackas, ACTRAV Desk Officer for Europe and Central Asia, reminded that the International Labour Organization has launched a number of guidance notes and tools that can assist trade unions in their work to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and to mitigate the impact of the economic crisis on the most vulnerable categories of workers including informal workers and migrants.

Mr. Gocha Aleksandria, Senior Specialist for Workers’ Activities, ILO Moscow, gave an overview of the most common policy measures and actions taken by countries and trade unions in response to the COVID-19 crisis in the sub- region. He alerted against policy and labour law amendments adopted by some of the governments that may worsen workers rights during the pandemic. 

The participants noted that the inclusion of trade unions in the work of the national anti-crisis bodies in their countries is the evidence of the effective social dialogue. It allows the unions to influence policy decisions and monitor the agreed actions.

The FITUT and FTUU colleagues thanked ILO/ACTRAV for its active support. They agreed to maintain contacts with each other by organizing regular online meetings.