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Solidarity and challenges in the nuclear sector amidst Ukraine’s invasion

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22 May, 2024In industriALL’s virtual International Nuclear Workers’ Unions’ Network (INWUN) meeting, affiliates came together to discuss developments and challenges in the sector. The main topic was the conflict in Ukraine where unions are faced with deteriorating working conditions amidst the ongoing struggle for safety due to the Russian invasion.

“We extend our deepest gratitude to the participants of this meeting, including representatives from IndustriALL Global and all trade unions from around the world for your support and solidarity with Ukraine,”

said Valery Matov, IndustriALL co-chair for the nuclear Sector and vice president of Ukrainian union Atomprofspilka.

Ukrainian trade unions are grappling with the loss of territories, facilities and people due to the ongoing conflict. 

“The UN Security Council has highlighted that the world is witnessing the most armed conflicts since WWII. Despite this, the UN has not expelled Russia from the Security Council, and the ILO continues to cooperate with Russia. As of May 17, 2024, Ukraine has lost 30 per cent of its economy, 20 per cent of its territory, and 3.5 million jobs due to the Russian aggression. Russia's targeting of Ukraine's energy sector is further exacerbating the crisis,”

Valery continued.

Kemal Ozkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, highlighted that with Russia's continued attacks on critical infrastructure, which caused significant damage and disruption in March, the global union community has been actively increasing pressure on international bodies. Nuclear unions worldwide are committed and supporting Ukrainian’s workers. 

“Mobilizing the international governance system remains crucial to maintaining this pressure. Findings from an independent mission have confirmed consistent attacks on infrastructure, and we expect the ILO to play a key role in mobilizing global governance,”

said Özkan.

Casper Edmonds from the ILO emphasized the profound suffering inflicted on Ukraine by the Russian aggression. He noted that Russia's actions violate the UN Charter and international law, and oppose the ILO's mission to promote peace and social justice. 

Edmonds highlighted the dire conditions faced by Ukrainian workers at Russian-occupied nuclear plants, working under threats to prevent nuclear disasters.

“Their bravery is commendable. The ILO's commitment to establishing an office in Kyiv signifies a proactive approach to ensuring a rights-based reconstruction of Ukraine, working closely with international partners.”

Trade unions in the nuclear sector from Argentina, France, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the United States provided an overview of the challenges and developments they face. They highlighted the struggle with transitioning to new energy sources while ensuring workers are considered, especially under conservative governments in Argentina and the UK. The discussions confirmed that much work remains to ensure workers are consulted and involved in all developments. The trade unions expressed their strong support and solidarity with the Ukrainian people, were deeply appalled by the situation in Ukraine.

During the ITUC mission to Kyiv on May 14-15, the global solidarity with Ukrainian colleagues was evident. Representatives from ITUC, IndustriALL, UNI global union and the TUC-UK all express that the courage and resilience of Ukrainian unions in these challenging times are commendable.

ITUC mission to Kyiv May 2024

Upon his return from Ukraine last week industriALL general secretary, Atle Hoie, said:

“My visit to Ukraine was a sobering reminder of the profound human cost of this conflict. It reinforced my belief in the need for solidarity and support from the international community. We must continue to keep Ukraine in our thoughts and on our agendas, ensuring that the sacrifices of its people are not forgotten, and that their fight for freedom is supported. The bravery and resilience of Ukrainian workers and their unions are nothing short of extraordinary, and their struggle is one that demands our support.”

Links : 

Resolution concerning the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine from the perspective of the mandate of the International Labour Organization (ILO)

ILO Brief: Violations of fundamental principles and rights at work at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and in Enerhodar city in Ukraine, temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation