(20 March 2023) The last physical meeting was in Astana, 10 March 2020, just before the pandemic lockdown. Much has happened since. The unions reported on the impact of the pandemic on their members and work. Stress, third party violence and long covid were key issues. The impact of aggression of Russia against Ukraine and the ongoing war leads to a different appreciation of the unions in Central Asia, with a focus on their challenges as emerging economies. One such theme was the impact of climate change with droughts hitting the countries. Environmental disaster such as the drying up of the Aral Sea was another issue. The unions were briefed on the PSI mission to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women by a delegate to UNCSW mission.
The unions discussed the EPSU programme of action and the constitution, the PSI Congress and programme of action and were informed about the ETUC Congress. Traditionally EPSU has a member of Russia-Central Asia in its delegation. Artem Tidva presented the work of the organising and recruitment team, the focus on the private sector and the concrete case of Kazakhstan.
As this was the first meeting of EPSU in Uzbekistan the unions discussed the challenges for it. Uzbekistan is a country in full development, seeking its place in Central Asia. After years of isolation it is gradually introducing the relevant ILO conventions, and with a strong position for the trade unions. One of the biggest challenges is population growth and keeping up in the provision of health care and public services. Tashkent is growing metropole with 3.5 million inhabitants. The country has regions with great poverty and lack of full medical services.
The meeting was followed by the establishment of the Central-Asian Health Workers Council. This will include the Mongolian health workers union. The unions adopted the statutes which includes working with EPSU/PSI. The EPSU General Secretary was present and welcomed the cooperation and focus on the common issues.
The constituency meeting took place in Tashkent, Uzbekistan 16 and 17 March 2023. The constituency consists of Kirgizia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The meeting was chaired by Bakytzhan Tazhybai, president of the Kazakh health workers union.