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Solidarity still strong with Ukraine

22 February, 2024Today, in a moving gathering, Ukrainian trade unions and international allies commemorated almost two years since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, an event that has drastically reshaped lives, economies, and Ukrainian society. The meeting, titled "Ukrainian trade unions: two years in wartime – challenges, priorities, and further support," brought together voices from across sectors, shedding light on the resilience and struggles of workers on the front lines of this conflict.

Participants from the international trade union movement, including Global Union Federations (GUFs), The International trade Union Confederation (ITUC), national trade unions from across sectors, national centres from around the world, and representatives from the International Labour Organization's Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) came together to show their solidarity.

The assembly began with a moving video, juxtaposing images of Ukraine before and after the invasion, concluding with a powerful plea: 

"We need your support now more than ever." 

This was followed by a moment of silence honouring the sacrifices of military personnel, trade union members, and all Ukrainians who have lost their lives, been displaced and who have suffered due to the war.

Participants heard first-hand accounts from miners turned soldiers, energy workers working tirelessly to maintain infrastructure, and public sector employees striving to keep the nation's heart beating amidst turmoil. These stories underscore the diverse impacts of the war, from the front lines to the home front, where every day is a battle for survival and resilience.

The president of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FPU) presented an overview of the war's toll: nearly 5 million jobs lost, 26% of Ukraine's territory under occupation, and a significant population decrease from 42 million pre-war to approximately 27 million. The Federation, a major union body in Ukraine, has seen its membership halved and thousands of primary union organizations lost.

The Chairperson of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) and the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) voiced a strong message of resilience and appreciation for international solidarity, he expressed that:

"Despite facing dire challenges, the support from global trade unions and democratic nations worldwide strengthens Ukraine's defence of democracy at home and abroad." 

Luc Triangle ITUC general secretary addressed participants saying:

“We condemn Russia's aggression, its inhumane acts, and the occupation that has devastated lives and infrastructure, forcing those in occupied territories under unjust laws.

Your fight is not just for Ukraine but for democracy, freedom, and the principles of free and democratic trade unions worldwide. We've provided financial support and will continue to rally resources to aid your cause, acknowledging the critical role trade unions play in providing humanitarian aid and advocating for workers' rights.”

The statement released by the FPU and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) on this 2nd anniversary underscores the ongoing crisis and the critical need for continued international support. It highlights the destruction brought by the Russian invasion, the massive economic cost, and the resolute spirit of the Ukrainian people.

As Ukraine continues its fight for freedom, democracy, and sovereignty, the solidarity event was a reminder of the war's far-reaching effects on workers and the importance of global unity in facing such challenges. The call for increased international aid and support resonates more strongly than ever, emphasizing that the struggle is not only Ukraine's but a testament to the resilience of human spirit in the face of aggression.

Kemal Özkan, the Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL, delivered a poignant address to the participants. He highlighted the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people, workers, and trade unions in their defence of democracy, human rights, and their nation's sovereignty amidst adversity. Özkan’s message of solidarity was clear:

"You are courageous as you defend your country. You are courageous as you fight for your future. You are courageous as you give a historic lesson to the whole world in showing how to defend democracy and fundamental human and workers’ rights.

Let’s continue to speak up together, let’s continue to stand up together, let’s continue to be united, and let’s continue to fight back together in solidarity for peace, democracy, rights, dignity, and future of all."