13 April, 2023On 11 April, IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll Europe held a joint strategy meeting in the Polish border town of Lancut with thirteen Ukrainian affiliates to plan future actions and activities to reinforce unity, solidarity and commitment for Ukraine.
The meeting took place just before the East sub-regional meeting of industriAll Europe and affiliated trade unions from Poland, the Czech Republik, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia welcomed their Ukrainian sisters and brothers.
Participants discussed human and labour rights violations in the areas of Ukraine occupied by the Russian Federation. Representatives of the Human Rights’ Monitoring Mission in Ukraine attended the meeting and shared their work on how to best report violations of trade union rights.
Casper Edmonds from the sectoral policies department (SECTOR) of the ILO and Gocha Aleksandria from the ILO Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) attended the meeting to exchange on violations of workers’ rights to freedom of association, forced labour and the right to a safe and healthy working environment.
“The war, occupation and aggression by Russia in Ukraine has a huge negative impact on our country's economy, and we welcome the opportunity in this meeting to discuss the problems and find ways to solve them,”
said Valeriy Matov, President of the nuclear energy workers’ union Atomprofspilka.
In the agricultural machinery sector, many companies have been destroyed and had their logistics and salesblocked. In the energy sector, infrastructure was deliberately destroyed by artillery fire, bombing and drones, but energy workers managed to repair substations and power lines, risking their lives in extremely difficult conditions.
In the oil and gas sector, companies were the first to be destroyed at the beginning of the war, and many oil storage facilities and oil products were burnt down. Likewise, twenty-one petrochemical companies were destroyed, resulting- in high risks of environmental disasters.
With five power plants, the nuclear energy sector has been a primary target and the Chernobyl plant was seized,whilst the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, was occupied. It is reported that Russian forces took over the plant and mistreated workers. Out of 11,000 employees before the war, only 1,200 remain at the plant.
The coal sector has faced many difficulties and in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, ten mines were destroyed. On 21 November 2022, about 2,000 mine workers remained underground amid shelling and power outages. 40% of Ukraine’s steel industry was lost, and the Azovstal and Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol destroyed. Avdiivka Coke in Donetsk Oblast, home to Europe's largest coke plant, was surrounded by Russian forces.
Participants committed to continue reporting all the facts to international agencies in order to defend their members on the ground. IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll Europe will cooperate with the ILO to organise a joint event in Kyiv in the coming months to follow up on the agreed plan.
The meeting also discussed the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine towards a peaceful and prosperous future through a sustainable economy with a strong manufacturing sector, which used to be the backbone of the country’s economy. It was agreed to work together to develop an industrial policy vision in the context the Just Transition programme, which will play an important role in advocacy work.
Participants were clear that investment must not be at the expense of workers’ rights. In this context, modifications to various enacted and planned labour laws were discussed and concerns expressed. Social conditionalities will be requested in interactions with international agencies and European Union authorities in the context of Ukraine’s accession process.
“Our commitment to our Ukranian affiliates will continue with strong concrete support from our industriAll Europe family since Ukraine has been granted candidate country status by the EU. We will make every effort to prepare our Ukrainian affiliates in the integration process and for sure, social and labour rights will remain a priority,”
said Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll Europe.
“With this important gathering we have reiterated our unwavering support for our Ukrainian sisters and brothers. Our two organizations will continue to respond to the needs our our affiliates in Ukraine by mobilising all our efforts and resources. Ukrainian unions play an important role in the reconstruction of their country with a viable social and economic life and our solidarity is with them,”
said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union.