13 February, 2023As the first anniversary of the Russian invasion approaches, IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll Europe met with Ukrainian affiliates on 9 February to discuss human and workers’ rights violations in the country.
Representatives from the ILO and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission for Ukraine (HRMMU) presented on major rights’ violations, how to detect and report them, and how to use the tools.
IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan, said:
“We are here to discuss human and labour rights violations and receive insights on how they have been committed, and also to strategize the way forward in a way to support and assist our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.”
Ukrainian affiliates reported how the war has caused job losses and destroyed industries. Participants heard about forced labour (e.g. in the nuclear sector), hazardous health and safety standards in mines, and the difficulties of union membership in occupied areas. Keeping track of membership or engaging in social dialogue is reported to be a challenge.
Natalie Levytska of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, NPGU, says:
“Mines have been destroyed and thousands of workers have lost their jobs. We need to think about rebuilding and protecting workers’ rights.”
“I commend you on your internal solidarity among the unions in Ukraine, throughout the war you have stood together to fight for workers, we know that you are often in meetings while shelling is happening, yet you continued with the work. We will help you as much as we can, we know you will prevail as an independent nation and create a just environment for your people,”
said Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary.
The ILO presented on workers’ rights violations and how to detect them. The importance of reports was provided to the session. ILO conventions are very clear, if any items are contradicted, it is a violation. Reports can be used to file action against perpetrators, and they serve as evidence when addressing violations.
IndustriAll Europe general secretary, Luc Triangle, welcomed the affiliates to industriAll Europe and Ukraine's application to the EU as a future Member State. He pledged that industriAll Europe would do all it could to support the EU process, but also to contribute to the fight against the rollback of Ukrainian labour legislation, including by raising the issue with EU institutions.
“We and all European workers have the highest respect for the Ukrainian people. You are fighting for our shared democratic and human values. We stand with you and will support you together with IndustriALL Global Union. In the coming months, the Ukrainian affiliates will be integrated into our European trade union work. This will bring us even closer together,”
The UN Human Rights Mission works on developing reports on human rights violations. Reports are developed through confidential interviews with victims or witnesses. Trade unions can be a huge assistance to the development of such reports, by having members share their experiences.
The next steps, in the joint work of IndustriALL Global and industriAll Europe with Ukrainian affliliates, will include raising awareness of the violations, how to report them and how to safeguard members’ rights.