In recent years, when it comes to Uzbekistan – the most dynamically developing state in Central Asia – the international community is increasingly using the term “New Uzbekistan”.
This is due to large-scale reforms carried out in all spheres of the country’s life under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
The election of Uzbekistan in October this year to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) was a vivid confirmation of the renewed image of the country and international recognition of the democratization processes taking place in it. It is noteworthy that among the newly elected members of the HRC, Uzbekistan became the country that received the largest number of votes – it was supported by 169 states.
Today, the state is taking all measures to achieve the goals of the Action Strategy for the priority areas of development of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021.
The Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan actively participates in these processes, which, being the largest non-governmental public organization in the country, unites 14 branches and 14 territorial associations with a total number of members of more than 5.5 million people.
Moreover, today the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan, as a member of the General Confederation of Trade Unions, acts as an independent and equal social partner of the Government in matters of labor protection, ensuring the rights and freedoms of workers.
This is largely because, for the first time in the history of independent Uzbekistan in 2019, trade unions managed to achieve the adoption of the law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On Trade Unions”, which was highly praised by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The adoption in 2016 of the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On labor protection” in the new edition also contributed to the increase of the public authority and social role of the Federation. Also, a positive role was played by the country’s ratification of the ILO Convention “On Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize in Trade Unions” and Uzbekistan’s accession to the Protocol to the ILO Convention “On Forced Labor”.
These documents endowed the trade unions of Uzbekistan with unprecedented rights and powers in the field of labor protection, allowing them to actively support and contribute to the implementation of dynamic reforms and transformations in all spheres of life of the state and society.
Thus, finally, the role of the country’s trade unions has been raised to the highest level, even when compared with the standards of the International Trade Union Confederation. And we can state that today in the new Uzbekistan fundamentally new contractual-legal mechanism for protecting the socio-economic rights of workers has been created and is starting to operate actively.
In particular, based on recent practice, the Council of the Federation of Trade Unions signed a General Agreement for 2020-2022 with the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Confederation of Employers of the country, which was put into effect and regulates cooperation between partners on socio-economic issues.
An indicator of the active participation of trade unions in the transformation processes is the growth in the number of sectoral agreements concluded, an increase in direct and indirect incomes of workers received through collective agreements per employee. Income, in particular, increased from 1.5 million (approximately $150) to 5 million 100 thousand soums (approximately $ 500).
Thanks to the efforts of trade union bodies and the support of the head of state, overdue wage arrears for the period between 2016 and January 1, 2020, were reduced by more than 6 times, and today they have been practically eliminated. 90% of the problems of women raised in appeals to trade unions have been resolved.
In recent years, trade unions, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population, as well as territorial authorities, have made significant progress in the fight against forced labor, including child labor.
As a result of constant monitoring during the cotton season of 2020, the involvement of employees of budgetary organizations, educational and health care institutions, students and schoolchildren in the harvest has been practically eradicated. This is highly appreciated by several international non-governmental organizations, as well as human rights activists.
Besides, the trade unions of Uzbekistan began to pay more attention to the improvement of the health of workers and their families. Today the Federation has a wide network of health resort institutions – 21 sanatoriums and 2 rest houses, 23 children’s health camps. Over the past three years, about 600 thousand citizens have been rehabilitated in sanatoriums and rest homes of the Federation system, of which about 45 percent have improved their health on preferential vouchers. 11 thousand 655 people were recovered free of charge. Every year in the summer period in children’s health camps more than 350 thousand children have a vacation on preferential vouchers, and 4,500 children have a free vacation in the Tashkent region for children from low-income families living in remote areas of the Republic of Karakalpakstan and Khorezm region.
In recent years, a number of new sanatoriums has been built and commissioned in the republic, which have made it possible not only to significantly improve the quality of health improvement for workers, but also to create new jobs. In particular, in the Muinak region of Karakalpakstan, a children’s health camp “White Steamer” was built and started operating, which is one of the best in Central Asia in terms of its equipment and amenities. The Water Sports Palace in Namangan was commissioned, as well as the sanatoriums “Khuzhaipok” in Surkhandarya, “Yangiyer” in the Syrdarya and “Kuhinur” in the Tashkent regions, built using the most modern technologies in a picturesque place.
High results are also shown by athletes who support sports associations of trade unions. In a short period of time, they won 26 gold, 20 silver and 17 bronze medals at the Asian and World Championships, and received 7 licenses to participate in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
As part of its activities, the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan holds public and educational events, in particular, the Forum of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan under the slogan “Unite for the Prosperity of the Country!”
The Women’s Council and the Youth Association of the Federation of Trade Unions also radically restructured their activities in the spirit of new tasks in building a renewed Uzbekistan.
Thus, at the initiative of the Women’s Council of the Federation of Trade Unions in 2019 in Samarkand, an international seminar “Socio-economic situation of women and the participation of trade unions in achieving gender equality” was held with the participation of representatives of international organizations and several foreign trade union centers.
To increase attention to the problems of women, to address their needs for employment, social protection, on the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, on March 7 of this year, a call center “Hotline” with short number 1211 began its activity.
The main purpose of the Helpline is to help women solve their daily concerns, to draw the attention of officials to their pressing problems, and also to ensure the fulfillment of their appeals since the fate of a person is behind every appeal. In particular, to date, the Call Center has received more than 50 thousand calls, of which about 87 percent were resolved following the established procedure, a little more than 13 percent were taken under control.
At the initiative of the Federation Youth Association, the Tashkent International Forum of Trade Union Youth “TEMP-2019” was held in June last year, in which young people from 20 countries and activists of trade unions of Uzbekistan took part.
Close cooperation has been established with the national trade union centers of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Cooperation with the International Labor Organization was raised to a new level, the practical result of which was a visit to Uzbekistan in December 2018 by a representative delegation of the International Labor Organization headed by Director General Guy Ryder. At a meeting with the trade union activists of the republic, Guy Ryder highly appreciated the activities of the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan in such areas as participation in lawmaking, labor protection, protection of the rights and interests of workers, especially women and youth.