Belarus ranked among top 10 worst countries for workers

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has published a global rights ranking for the year 2021 (PDF). Belarus is ranked next to Honduras, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar.

Employees of Hrodna Azot during a strike at the plant. Hrodna, Belarus. August 19, 2020. Photo: Belsat

Over the past year, the situation with workers’ rights in the world has deteriorated. While in 2020, 89 countries hindered the creation of trade unions, their number in 2021 was 109. As many as 87% of countries now violate workers’ rights to strike, 79% of countries have the right to collective bargaining, while 65% have had limited access to justice. All of this applies to Belarus as well.

This is the eighth time the ITUC has ranked workers’ rights in countries around the world. This year, two new countries made the top ten worst: Myanmar, where a military junta seized power, and Belarus, which was already in that top ten in 2015 and 2016.

Also in this year’s top 10 are Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, the Philippines, Turkey, and Zimbabwe.

The group of countries where workers have no guarantees of rights also includes Kazakhstan and Ukraine. ITUC believes that their situation with the rights of workers is better than that of Belarus.

In Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, China, and India, the situation with workers’ rights is better than in Belarus, although still very bad. North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Western Sahara, and some other countries and territories were not included in the rating.

Naftan, Hrodna Azot, and Polatsk-Steklovalakno are mentioned as examples of Belarusian companies, violating workers’ rights. The list of violators also includes Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Uber.

Concerning Belarus, it is noted that after the presidential elections in 2020, the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka launched repressive actions against independent trade unions, banned all rallies and demonstrations, conducted raids on the offices of several independent trade unions, kidnapped union representatives from their workplaces and threw them behind bars. Reference is made to the sentences of trade union activists Daria Palyakova, Uladzimir Berdnikovich, and the imprisonment of Andrei Prylutski.