Solidarity with the ETUCE member organisation TUESWK in Kyrgyzstan


ETUCE reaffirms its strong solidarity with its member organisation in Kyrgyzstan, the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Kyrgyzstan (TUESWK), for the detention of Asylbek Toktogulov on 6 December, who has been serving as the President of TUESWK for many years. 

On the same date, were also arrested the two deputy chairs of the Kyrgyzstan Federation of Trade Unions (FTUK), Kanatbek Osmonov and Omor Arstanbekov, the chair of the Mining and Metallurgy Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan, Eldar Tadjibaev, the deputy chair of the Trade Union of Mechanical Builders Tokombaev, and the chair of the Trade Union of Workers of the Agro-Industrial Complex, Jeenbek Osmonaliev.

ETUCE was informed that a criminal case has been initiated against Asylbek Toktogulov as per the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic on grounds of him participating in a sale of a plot owned by the FTUK. According to our sources, under the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic the charge made is applicable to public officials that committed a crime against the interest of the state. It is therefore extremely concerning that such allegation was addressed to a trade union leader. 

ETUCE fully stands by TUESWK and its president, Asylbek Toktogulov, a respected and highly valued union leader, well-known for his engagement for protecting the right of teachers and other education personnel and improving their working conditions.

The arrest of Asylbek Toktogulov represents a clear attack on freedom of association of TUESWK and other trade unions in Kyrgyzstan. ETUCE will continue supporting TUESWK and advocating against any attempt to criminalise trade unions. Furthermore, we cannot underestimate the negative impact of the pending proposal for a law on trade unions and the threat to trade unions’ freedom of association and independence that it would constitute if adopted.

ETUCE defends the freedom of Kyrgyz trade unions from the continued attempts of the authorities to restrict their capacity to act as independent and autonomous worker’ representatives. This is an open violation of national law and the ILO Conventions ratified by Kyrgyzstan, in particular ILO Convention on “Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise” (No. 87, ratified on 31 March 1992) and ILO Convention on the “Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining” (No. 98, ratified on the same date).

ETUCE stands against the unjust and unlawful persecution of TUESWK’s members with arbitrary and political decisions and long and uncertain judicial processes. ETUCE supports TUESWK and insist on the importance of social dialogue and the correct implementation and involvement of workers’ representatives, in line with ILO Convention (No. 144) and Recommendation (No. 152) on Tripartite Consultation. Teachers, academics and other education personnel deserve and rightly demand decent teaching and learning conditions for teachers and students.

ETUCE, representing 127 education trade unions in Europe, stands in solidarity with TUESWK and its affiliates in Kyrgyzstan. We believe in the respect of democratic values, rights of social partners and the freedom of association, as stated by article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Any trial of trade union leaders should be held publicly, and authorities should guarantee access to court hearings to independent journalists, representatives of human rights organisations, foreign embassies and all interested parties.

Asylbek Toktogulov has always stood for ensuring a high-quality educational process requiring energetic, creative and motivated teachers with employment stability, decent and competitive salary, and balanced workload. To achieve this, we expect the government of Kyrgyzstan to engage in a meaningful and genuine social dialogue with trade unions.  

ETUCE continues closely monitoring the situation, in close cooperation with European and international trade unions, and supporting TUESWK and its members in this fight to ensure fair trade union representation and decent working conditions for education and academic staff in Kyrgyzstan.