The Pan-European Regional Council of the ITUC, led by Russian trade unionist Mikhail Shmakov, has accused the dictatorial Lukashenko government of Belarus of introducing slavery. Decree No 9 prohibits workers in industies undergoing ‘modernisation’ from leaving their jobs without the permission of their employer – including Belarus’ wood processing enterprises.
Belarus is a repeat offender against democracy, human rights and workers’ fundamental freedoms. This autumn the ILO Governing Body again rebuked the government of Belarus for failing to co-operate with the ILO over cases raised over the past decade, and which led the European Union years ago to suspend preferential trading arrangements.
Earlier this month, British actors called on Prime Minister David Cameron to highlight human rights abuses in Belarus, including the case of the Belarus Free Theatre, referred to in a Congress 2012 resolution moved by EQUITY. The actors involved include household names like Ralph Fiennes, Joanna Lumley, Simon Callow, Alan Rickman and Adjoa Andoh.
Ralph Fiennes said:
“I appeal to David Cameron, prime minister of my country, to use the power of morality in politics, to disturb the sleep of conscience and urge Alexander Lukashenko, Europe’s last dictator, to end the torture of his own people and release all political prisoners before the new year.”