Around 40 leaders from railway unions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia met with ILO experts and senior ITF representatives in Baku, Azerbaijan from 30 September to 1 October to discuss organising and the promotion of ILO conventions throughout the rail industry.
07/10/2015 – The railway unions – from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova – were joined by representatives from Azerbaijan’s maritime, road transport and metro sectors. The ITF was represented by general secretary Stephen Cotton, railway section chair Oysten Aslaksen, legal adviser Ruwan Subasinghe and assistant secretary inland transport workers sections Janina Malinovska.
Discussion focused on topics related to the impact of organisational and legal changes in the railway industry on the trade union movement; the problems of implementing fundamental ILO conventions in the CIS region; the promotion of ILO conventions; and other issues facing ITF affiliates.
The ILO senior workers’ activities specialist, Sergejus Glovackas, spoke about the importance of promoting and implementing ILO conventions 87 and 98, with a special focus on supply chains and multinationals in the railway sector. John Bliek, ILO specialist on enterprise development, addressed the ILO Declaration on Multinational Enterprises.
The participants also debated how to improve co-operation and communication with the ITF, and integration with the ITF.
Oysten Aslaksen said: “Restructuring of the world’s railway systems is taking place. This means privatisation and a split between infrastructure, operations and maintenance that causes great challenges to railway trade unions. Sonner or later this will come to the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region and we have to be prepared.”
The meeting was organised in co-operation with the ILO (ACTRAV) and regional office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, in close co-operation with the ICTURWTB, the regional railway union body for CIS countries and Baltic states.