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Afghanistan: Government Blocks Trade Union Congress Again

The ITUC has called on the president of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, to end the government’s obstruction of legitimate trade union work in the country and allow the ITUC-affiliated national trade union centre NUAWE to hold its congress. NUAWE, the National Union of Afghanistan Workers and Employees, was due to hold its congress on 5 September but was ordered by the Justice Ministry to call it off. An earlier attempt by the organisation to hold its congress in February also met with a government ban.

The government has reneged on its pledge to unblock the organisation’s bank account and has systematically interfered in the congress preparations which were underway. It has also refused to return confiscated properties belonging to the union centre until a congress has been held. It has further failed to implement its promise to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association to cease interfering in NUAWE’s affairs.

“This is a gross violation of the rights of working people in Afghanistan to freedom of association. The government has failed to live up to its undertakings and seems determined to deprive workers of union representation. It has placed NUAWE in an impossible position, refusing to return properties to the union until a congress is held, then refusing to allow a congress to take place. We call on President Ghani to end the interference in the union’s affairs and ensure that the government meets its obligations to respect freedom of association under international law,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

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