In Europe and Central Asia, the Solidarity Center helps unions defend worker rights, promote legal reform, and gain workers their rightful voice in the political and economic transition process.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, countries throughout Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia have been struggling to become politically democratic participants in a free market economy. The transition has not been entirely successful, however.
Far too many governments persist in denying workers and unions their basic rights. The laws that do exist to protect workers are feebly enforced. Unemployment is high, and many employers fail to pay workers on time if at all. Illegal or corrupt privatization schemes coupled with the rapid growth of trafficking and organized crime have pushed working men and women further into poverty. Ongoing ethnic conflict still threatens to undermine democratic gains.
Ukrainian Union: Economic Fairness over Austerity, Autocracy
. December 2, 2013—The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) is preparing for a possible national strike to call for just economic reform and a more rational approach to solving the country's financial woes.
Ukraine Unions Back EU Accord, Oppose IMF Austerity Demands.
November 26, 2013—As protests have spread across Ukraine in recent days over the government’s decision to suspend Association Agreement talks with the European Union, more than 100,000 Ukrainians took to the streets in Kiev on Sunday, marching in the cold rain as part of a coalition of political parties and civil society groups, including the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU).
Kyrgyzstan Parliament Workers Form Independent Union
. July 26, 2013—Kyrgyzstan Parliament employees successfully formed a new union, now recognized by their employer, after a months-long struggle in which supporters of the new 100-member union were fired and the new union president was barred from the building.
Ukraine: Worker Rights Under Threat as Democracy Dwindles
. May 23, 2013—Freedom of association and the ability of civil society organizations to fully function in Ukraine are in jeopardy as the country increasingly moves away from democracy. Only international attention and solidarity have slowed these disturbing trends.
Russian Unionist Wins 2013 Svensson Prize for Trade Union Rights.
May 3, 2013—Valentin Urusov, the Russian electrician and trade unionist unjustly imprisoned for years in a Siberian penal colony, received the international Arthur Svensson Prize for Trade Union Rights in 2013.
Global Unions Urge Release of Imprisoned Russian Trade Unionist
. February 6, 2013—Trade unionist Valentin Urusov, an electrical fitter at an ore-processing mill owned by the diamond mining company Alrosa, has spent more than four years of a six-year term in a penal colony in far northern Russia.
Unions Mark No to Violence Against Women Day.
November 26, 2012—At a Turkish-owned textile plant in the Democratic Republic of Georgia a few years ago, female employers were repeatedly forced to remain on the job without pay for hours a day. When they ultimately demanded to be released, the factory manager responded by yelling and throwing a heavy load of unfinished dresses at one woman.
Decent Work and the Valentin Urusov Case.
November 28, 2012—This is an excerpt from the Global Labour Column by Anna Wolañska, international secretary of NSZZ “Solidarnoœæ” and a member of the governing Body of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Like Russian politics, labor relations in Russia are rife with contradictions.
Solidarity Center, IUF Open Moldovan Migrant Worker Center.
October 10, 2012—The Solidarity Center and the International Union of Food, Farm, and Hotel Workers (IUF) have launched the Information Center for Migrant Workers (ICMW), in Chisinau, Moldova.
Ukraine: Union Leader Injured by Police during Protest in Kyiv.
July 10, 2012—Ukrainian union leader Valentyna Korobka was hospitalized with a concussion and other injuries after she was assaulted by police at a July 4, 2012, protest in Kyiv, according to the Free Trade Union of Entrepreneurs of Ukraine (FTUEU), which she chairs.
Legal Advisory Center Offers Free Job-Related Counsel to Kyrgyz Workers.
March 30, 2012—In Kyrgyzstan, as all over the world, the nature of work is changing, and protecting worker rights is more and more challenging. The Legal Advisory Center (LAC), established on March 12 at Kyrgyz National University, Bishkek, offers information about work-related issues and educates workers about their rights on the job.
Turkey: New ITUC Report Highlights Government's Failure to Protect Workers.
February 21, 2012—A new report released today by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) strongly criticizes the Turkish government’s failure to protect workers from exploitation and intimidation by private-sector employers and state authorities.
Worker Rights Endangered in Greece.
February 7, 2012—The International Trade Union Confederation has condemned the attacks on worker rights in the current demands being made of the Greek government by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Debate in Kyrgyzstan: To Join or not to Join a Common Customs Border?
January 11, 2012—Would Kyrgyzstan’s membership in a regional economic bloc with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan aid or undermine jobs, wages, and living standards for Kyrgyz workers? The Solidarity Center brought together some 70 government experts, union leaders, employers and representatives of international organizations in Bishkek to discuss key concerns.
Belarus: Union Federation Demands Government Adopt Urgent Measures.
June 2, 2011—Economic chaos fueled by runaway prices, galloping inflation and the collapse of the Belarusian ruble has led to a sharp deterioration in living standards of all citizens, especially the least socially protected. In response, the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) has called for urgent measures from the Lukashenko government.
Despite Repression, Workers Continue to Organize in Belarus.
April 18, 2011—It’s been a bad decade for the workers of Belarus. With ongoing political repression by President Alexander Lukashenko in the past 10 years, nascent workers’ organizations are facing extinction in what is now often called “the last dictatorship of Europe.”
Unions Outraged at Post-Election Violence in Belarus.
The global labor movement expressed outrage at the post-election human rights violations in Belarus, many directed at union members. "This kind of repression is totally unacceptable, and the international community . . . must not let it go unchallenged,” said International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Human Rights Activist Killed in Bishkek Demonstration.
April 18, 2010—Joldoshbek Kudaibergenov, a 36-year-old representative of the International Association of Kyrgyz Diasporas, "Zamandash," was shot and killed on April 7, 2010, by a sniper targeting demonstrators on the central square in Bishkek.
Ukrainian Unions Petition for Quality Health Care and Education
. May 26, 2009—On May Day the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine launched a public campaign in the province of Dnepropetrovsk to improve the rapidly deteriorating quality of health care and education, which undermines quality of life.
Iraqi Women Unionists Join Their Turkish Sisters for Historic International Womens Day
. For the first time ever, Iraqi women unionists visited Turkey to celebrate International Women’s Day with their Turkish sisters.
Ukrainian Unions Educating, Agitating, Organizing.
February 26, 2009— In the February 2009 issue of its International News Bulletin, the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine reports on the election of Svetlana Kozakova to the groundbreaking position of Women’s Section National Organizer and more.
Another Russian Union Leader Assaulted!
February 20, 2009—Only weeks after a new local union formed at a St. Petersburg GM auto plant, its president was brutally attacked and beaten outside his home—the second assault in two months on a Russian auto union leader.
Russian Free Trade Unions Under Attack. December 23, 2008—Over the last several years the government of Vladimir Putin has consistently, deliberately, and logically shut down one avenue of free expression, pluralism, and democracy after another in Russia.
Migrant Workers Under Attack in Russia. December 18, 2008—Moscow police are investigating the shocking murder of a 20-year-old Tajik migrant worker, whose severed head was found in a dumpster on December 10, four days after he and a co-worker were stabbed on the way home from their jobs at a suburban food warehouse.
Ukraine Labor Confederation Gains 2,000 New Members in August. October 1, 2008—The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine reports in the second issue of its International News Bulletin that 2,000 aviation workers joined in the month of August.
Georgian Teachers Union to the Rescue. August 2008—As Georgian workers struggle in the aftermath of the Russian invasion, Solidarity Center Country Program Director Robert Fielding is on the ground in Georgia and providing dispatches from the field.
Ukraine Labor Confederation Launches E-Bulletin. August 21, 2008—With Solidarity Center support, the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (CFTUU) published the first issue of its electronic monthly news bulletin.
Armed Assailants Attack Russian Dockworkers Union Leader. June 2007—Russian dockworkers union Chairman Mikhail Chesalin was savagely stabbed, beaten, and left unconscious outside his Kaliningrad office.
Belarus Union Leaders Jailed. March 29, 2006—Belarusian police arrested eight union leaders shortly before the March 19 presidential election, charging them with treason.
Solidarity Center Publications
- Global Worker Rights Briefings: Ukraine (Feb. 2006). In the lead up to the March 26 parliamentary elections in Ukraine, the Solidarity Center hosted an expert panel to discuss possible electoral outcomes, and their anticipated impact on democracy and human rights.