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ETUC and ITUC acclaim EU decision

INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION (ITUC)

ITUC OnLine
33/211206

ETUC and ITUC acclaim EU decision to impose trade sanctions on Belarus

Brussels, 21 December 2006 (ITUC OnLine): The European Trade Union
Confederation (ETUC) and the ITUC warmly welcome the European Council's
decision to withdraw trade privileges from Belarus, in response to the
government's failure to respect trade union rights.

The trade union movement has been campaigning for this action, at
international, European and national level, since 2003. An International
Labour Organization (ILO) Commission of Inquiry in 2004 called on
Belarus to stop the harassment of trade unions and guarantee freedom of
association and the right to organise. This has not happened, and the
ETUC and ITUC welcome the European Commission's call to Member States
to exclude Belarus from EU Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) trade
benefits.

ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder said "this is a welcome decision from
the EU, and can only help bring the Lukashenko regime to realise that
its repression of democratic and independent trade union has to stop".

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has recognised this as a test case
of the EU's collective commitment to the promotion of workers' rights as
an integral part of its trade policy.

"In the past, the EU has made many fine declarations about using its
trade strategy to promote fundamental human and trade union rights and
core labour standards, but seldom delivered on them," said ETUC General
Secretary John Monks. "In this case it has shown it is willing to take
concrete action in support of workers denied their basic rights. We hope
the Belarus government will now act to protect fundamental trade union
freedoms."

Founded on November 1 2006, the ITUC represents 168 million workers in
153 countries and territories and has 304 national affiliates.
http://www.ituc-csi.org

Ends

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