Recognizing that increased numbers help unions better advocate for worker rights and negotiate wages and working conditions with Kyrgyzstan’s employers and government, 28 union activists joined the Solidarity Center’s Organizing School, a four-part program that began in March. The school drew participants from construction, informal trading, public service, taxi and textile sectors, many of whom are already successfully putting their new skills into practice.
“By emphasizing practical skills, fostering authentic communication and providing ongoing support, this initiative is contributing to a stronger labor movement and empowered organizers who can bring about positive change in their workplaces and communities,” says Solidarity Center Program Officer Elena Rubtsova.
Early successes of the program include establishment of a union savings’ program, “Zymyryk-Invest,” by the union representing construction workers, which has already attracted dozens of new members, and expansion of the taxi drivers’ union, Kabylan, into Kyrgyzstan’s fourth largest city, Karakol, through use of a new, dedicated WhatsApp chat group. Although Kyrgyzstan’s labor law does not specifically protect the rights of workers on digital platforms, it allows self-employed taxi drivers to unite within pre-existing trade unions.
Between training sessions, organizing school participants practiced their new skills, including strategic communications, and benefited from group and Solidarity Center support.
“This training helped me understand that speaking from the heart and using our own words resonates more effectively with others,” says Kabylan President Ulan Cholponbaev.