On May 15-17, Brussels hosted the IndustriALL Global Union's European Regional Conference "Strengthening Trade Unions' Power in Enlarged Europe". The Belarusian independent trade unions took part in the conference: Lizaveta Merlyak represented the Belarusian Independent Trade Union (known as the BNP), and Andrei Strizhak, a Council member of the REP Trade Union, represented his organization.
Andrei Strizhak has commented on the conference to the praca-by.info:
"We are a part of a large trade union family that does not give itself to be offended. The IndustriALL Global Union unites millions of workers around the world. In many countries, the trade unions-members of the IndustriALL have a great influence on their national governments, which, in their turn, raise in international structures the issue of the inadmissibility of human and workers' rights violations by Belarusian authorities. This trade unions' position is seriously correcting the approaches practiced by the European Union (EU), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations (UN) towards our country; and our government is very sly when pretending that international structures have no effect on its decisions and actions. Belarus is a part of the global economy, trade unions have a serious impact thereon, and actions of Belarus' leadership result in our country losing a lot of money due to violations of workers' rights in Belarus."
"Belarus is one of the two countries of the developing world excluded from the special system of trade benefits (preferences). Only Belarus and Myanmar, which was punished for using child labour, have no access to this system of preferences. In order to regain the capacity to trade profitably with other countries of the world, Belarus must fulfil and enforce the recommendations of the ILO. No money is needed for this; just freedom to work for all the trade unions should be given. This requires political will and aspiration for reforms. Do our authorities have such will and aspiration? It's a rhetorical question," Mr Strizhak has concluded.