International Trade Union Confederation and IndustriALL Global Union representatives visited Ukraine on 28 and 29 March to express solidarity with Ukrainian trade unions and highlight the problems faced by workers.
Both international union organizations explained their concerns over problems of insufficient social dialogue and fast degrading workers’ conditions combined with increasing trade union rights’ violations. The mission also raised their concerns over the new Labour Code currently being debated in the national parliament, undermining workers’ rights and criticized by the International Labour Organization.
The delegation met with a number of trade union representatives and leaders of national union centres and sectorial trade unions as well as Ukrainian government representatives including the ministry of economy and trade, the ministry of social politics, the ministry of energy and coal industry and others.
Currently the country is facing an economic downturn, severely felt by workers and the population in general. According to recent research by the UN, living standards in Ukraine are continuously falling and about 60 per cent of Ukrainians already live below the poverty line.
Vadim Borisov, IndustriALL regional secretary said, “Politically the country is seeking closer ties and better integration with the European Union. However in the absence of due attention of the Government to the system of social dialogue aimed to mitigate the effects of economic problems in the country, workers are paying the biggest price for lack of economic and social reforms in Ukraine.”
IndustriALL and ITUC affiliates criticized the Government’s failure to develop a strong industrial policy or a clear strategy in any of the industrial sectors of the country.
"The country needs stability to ensure a fair transition, but it is under threat due to violation of trade unions rights," commented ITUC deputy general secretary Jaap Wienen.
Following the two days of work the mission concluded with a number of proposals on how to improve the situation.
IndustriALL and the ITUC have pledged to send a joint letter to the Prime Minister of Ukraine with an appeal to intervene in the situation and start negotiations with workers and their representatives before people go out to the streets.
Furthermore the global unions will appeal to their respective affiliates from all over the world and raise their awareness about the problems faced by Ukrainian workers.
In the same time the Internationals will also notify the European Parliament through the Vice President of the European Commission, Federico Mogerini, about the current situation and will lobby the International Monetary Fund so that loans to Ukraine are provided only for programmes that have social blocks developed jointly with trade unions.
The mission also called for a solidarity and unity among all trade unions inside the country.
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary commented on the results of the mission, “We expected a much more responsive attitude from the Ukrainian authorities to the mission. Unfortunately the current state of social dialogue and workers' rights in the country is not sufficient and must be improved. The authorities must do a lot more if they want to keep the country from social collapse.
“IndustriALL has strong solidarity ties with all of our 12 affiliates in Ukraine, and we are in regular contact with all of them. We will never leave them alone in their struggle for decent working and living conditions and we will keep a close eye on the developments in Ukraine.”