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HRW: Kyrgyz Bill Would 'Cripple' Independent Trade Unions

The New-York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on Kyrgyz lawmakers to reject draft amendments to the trade union law, saying it would “cripple" independent trade unions in the Central Asian country.

In a statement on October 31, HRW said parliament should reject the proposed amendments when they are presented for a third reading, because they would “severely inhibit independent trade union organizing and violate international labor treaties” to which Kyrgyzstan is a party.

“Kyrgyzstan should be protecting and facilitating freedom of association, not finding ways to undermine it,” said Laura Mills, Europe and Central Asia researcher at the human rights group.

HRW said the draft amendments would require industry and regional trade unions to join a national federation -- the Kyrgyzstan Federation of Trade Unions -- that would be the only union recognized by the government.

“This federation would have the authority to approve charters and other activities of lower-tier unions, severely limiting their ability to operate independently,” according to HRW.

The watchdog quoted the International Labor Organization (ILO) as saying the bill would create a “monopoly” on union organizing and undermine “trade union diversity.”

To become law, the bill has to be adopted by Kyrgyz lawmakers in a third and final vote, and be approved by President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

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