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Fundamental workers’ rights violated in Ukraine

23 May, 2023In a recent report, IndustriALL and the ILO outline violations of workers’ rights at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and in the city of Enerhodar, as Russia’s war on Ukraine continues.

By gathering information from affiliated unions in Ukraine and from reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine, the brief unambiguously states that the fundamental rights of Ukrainian workers in the areas temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation are frequently and repeatedly violated.

 “Although we know that the people of Ukraine are suffering more than a year after the invasion, this reports shows to what extent the workers are paying for this senseless occupation with their fundamental rights,”

says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan.

Before the occupation, there were 12,000 workers at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and in Enerhodar city. 11,000 of those were union members at the plant, a number which today has dwindled to around 1,200.
Many workers managed to escape before the the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was occupied. Those who still work there have been forced to sign employment contracts with the Russian state atomic energy corporation, Rosatom, and to join unions created or controlled by the occupying forces, a clear violation of the right to freedom of association.
According to IndustriALL affiliate Atomprofspilka, some workers have been forced to go to work and escorted to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant at gunpoint.
Workers have been subjected to threats to sign contracts with the occupying forces. Although some were detained while their homes were searched and their families threatened, less than five per cent of these workers signed employment contracts with the occupying forces; the rest remaining loyal to the Ukrainian energy utility.
Russia has converted the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant into a military base. The occupying forces are neither respecting fire safety regulations nor other safety procedures in the premises they have taken control over.
A recent report on nuclear safety, security and safeguards in Ukraine by the IAEA confirms that – in the past year – several of Ukraine’s five nuclear power plants and other facilities have come under direct shelling.
Atomprofspilka reports that workers sent to repair damaged energy infrastructure are putting their lives at risk, since the Russian Federation are deliberately shelling power lines and transformer stations.
Workers report that the occupying forces have stolen vehicles, computers, medical kits, and other equipment, and that supply chains for new equipment and spare parts have broken down. As a result, staff no longer have access to life-saving personal protective equipment.

Matov Valeriy, IndustriALL vice co-chair for the nuclear sector and president of Atomprofspilka, says:

“We are grateful to IndustriALL and the ILO for bringing this issue to the attention of the world. We expect that the most serious consequences of the activities of the Russian occupation forces will be fully discovered after the de-occupation.”