The 2021 Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights has been awarded to the independent trade union movement in Belarus, represented by the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) and its affiliates. for ‘their fearless struggle for democracy and fundamental trade union rights in Europe’s last dictatorship’.
The prize is an international award established by the Norwegian trade union Industri Energi, a member organisation of IndustriALL. The prize money is NOK 500,000; half the amount goes directly to the prize winner and an equal amount will be spent on projects related to the awardee.
“Belarus is considered one of the worst countries in the world for violating workers’ rights. Human rights organizations have for many years expressed deep concern about the human rights violations in the country; «disappearances», police violence and lack of freedom of expression and association. Despite the Lukashenka regime’s attempts to take control of the independent unions and complicate recruitment, organizing and regular trade union activity, they have never given up and have continued to work for its members,” the awarding committee says.
According to them, the independent trade union movement became central early in the fight against the falsification of the election result and the fight for democracy when the situation in the country significantly deteriorated in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.
“The strikes and demonstrations were met with terror, mass arrests and torture. A number of trade union representatives and activists have been fired from their jobs, and many have been imprisoned or forced to flee the country. Union offices have been raided and closed. Nevertheless, the unions in the BKDP have recruited new members, formed new local unions and continued the struggle. This will be crucial for the Lukashenka regime to fall in the end,” the official statement reads.
The awarding ceremony is to be held online on June, 16.