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Ukraine must abandon anti-worker law reform

21 April, 2021Ukrainian unions are concerned over at least seven anti-worker and anti-union draft laws in violation of the national constitution and international labour standards, including ILO conventions and EU directives.

Last year, mass union protests in Ukraine and global solidarity actions ’managed to defeat a regressive draft labour law. Legislators have instead drafted separate laws, which they try to push in the parliament aiming to simplify the regulation of labor relations and give more powers to the employers.

Draft law № 5371, submitted to parliament on 13 April, proposes a new "contractual regime for regulating labour relations" for small and medium-sized enterprises with less than 250 workers, with all working conditions determined by an employment contract instead of by labour law.

“This draft law threatens the majority of workers, because almost 75 percent of employers employ less than 250 people, and 73.1 percent of economically active population work in small and medium-sized enterprises. Given the widespread practice of splitting large companies into smaller ones, it would also apply to giant companies,”

says Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) chairman Mikhailo Volynets.

All norms and provisions that would normally be in the collective agreement, would instead be set in the employment contract with each worker. The employment contract would determine the grounds for dismissal instead of the current strict list of grounds provided by the labour code. The contract would allow for worse working conditions than guaranteed by legislation, that wages are paid once a month instead of twice, which is the case today, and that wages are set without reference to wage rates in the collective agreement.

“Different employment contracts with workers that perform same volume of work in the same working conditions can lead to discrimination if they receive different wages due to personal preferences and other subjective criteria of the employer,”

says the chairman of the Trade Union of Metalworkers and Miners of Ukraine (PMGU), Alexander Ryabko.

According to Atomprofspilka chairman Valery Matov, the biggest worker organizations were not consulted on the draft law, in violation of ILO Recommendation №189.

“We are calling on the Joint representative body of all-Ukrainian trade unions to apply to international institutions and to the President of Ukraine to prevent the adoption of the draft law. Given the difficult economic situation, limited employment opportunities, potential workers will be forced to agree to these conditions in order to get a job.”

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Ozkan says:

“We support our Ukrainian affiliates in their struggle against the anti-worker and anti-union draft laws and will provide assistance to make sure Ukrainian labour law complies with core international labour standards.”