Ukraine: We Must Stop the Government´s Offensive Against People´s Labor Rights

By Oleg Vernik, Vitali Dudin. Labor Defense Union

This article is being written while a great scandal has just broken out in Ukraine. The chairperson of the Parliamentary Commission for Social Policy, Galina Tretyakova, author of the anti-union bill No. 2681, has publicly stated that “poor quality” children are born to poor Ukrainian families in need of state social assistance. In addition, she has said that she is impressed by Singapore’s experience with its forced sterilization of mothers who cannot raise their children without state support.

In this context of sad analogies with eugenics, Hitler’s pseudoscience, the attack by the presidential party “Servant of the People” against the labor rights of Ukrainian citizens seems absolutely expected. Over the past 15 years, successive bourgeois authorities in Ukraine have been trying to “modernize” Ukraine’s labor legislation and, first of all, decree the invalidity of the rules of the Labor Code that has been in force since 1971. Of course, the 1971 U has already been updated many times and, step by step, it has been losing its functions of protecting workers’ labor rights. However, at this time, the Code remains our outpost in the fight against liberalization of industrial relations in Ukraine exclusively in favor of employers.

What anti-union innovations does the Servant of the People party offer in its draft of Law No. 2681?

1. The powers of union committees (elected union bodies) to require company owners to terminate the employment contract with the head of the company if the latter violates labor laws are revoked;

2. An absolutely senseless restriction is introduced on the formation of more than two unions in one company. Currently, many major Ukrainian companies may even have over 10 different union organizations. In other words, the bosses will create 2 “yellow” unions, while other militant unions will no longer be able to organize in the company;

3. Union committees will lose their right to coordinate the application of disciplinary sanctions (reprimands) to members of union committees;

4. The dismissal of the members of the union committees will be carried out without the agreement of the superior organism of the union;

5. To create a primary union organization, it will take at least ten members, and not three like today. This will result in the impossibility of founding unions in small companies and in autonomous subdivisions of companies.

6. Unions will no longer control the activities of canteens, residences, kindergartens and other social facilities belonging to the company;

7. Unions will not be allowed to require employers to submit documents on workers’ working conditions;

8. Unions will no longer control payroll and state social security accounts;

9. Obligatory deductions of companies to the primary union organizations for the organization of cultural, sports and recreational activities will cease;

10. The ban on bosses from firing former union committee members for 1 year will be removed.

11. The employer will no longer pay union committee members for 6 days a year that are assigned for union training.

Not all the anti-labor innovations in the draft of the criminal law number 2681 promoted by the parliamentary group of the presidential party are listedhere. Today, union rights are under constant attack. Due to irrelevant cases of breach of guarantees and even persecution of trade unions, Ukraine, along with Belarus, occupy the lowest positions in Europe in the ranking of the Global Rights Index of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC Global Rights Index – 2019). A wave of neoliberal reforms by the Zelensky government suffocates Ukraine. However, every day the resistance to this offensive against the popular masses is being strengthened. Both the post-Soviet Ukrainian Federation of Trade Unions and the new independent unions have come together to counter the government’s plans. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and its leader Sharan Burrow have clearly declared to the whole world: “Any successive promotion of the project of Law No. 2681 without a real and significant participation of the unions, as well as its inconsistency with labor standards and the Constitution of Ukraine, will undermine Ukraine’s reputation as a trusted international and trade partner.

Workers and unions face decisive battles for the preservation of the labor rights of Ukrainian workers. From unity our strength is born!

Ukraine: Forest Fires Near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

A verdict on Ukrainian capitalism.

By Oleg Vernik, President of the Independent Union of Ukraine “Zahist Pracі” (“Labor Protection”)

For two weeks, a true ecological tragedy unfolded in Ukraine with massive forest fires in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. The fires swept huge wooded areas and closely surrounded the nuclear power plant that was destroyed in 1986. The riskiest thing now is a large deposit of radioactive waste, which will represent a danger not only for our country, but also for the whole of Europe, if the fires reach it .

For two weeks, nationally mobilized fire brigades fought the fire desperately, but only the rain and snow that fell on April 14 were able to stop it. On that same date, in the evening, President Volodímir Zelensky spoke on television, reported on the end of the incident and thanked the weather for the great help in extinguishing the fire. But on April 15, the fire resumed and more than 500 firefighters are still fighting it heroically.

The Chernobyl fire revealed all the direct failures and crimes of Ukraine’s capitalist authorities. First, it must be taken into account that the real causes of these fires are associated with illegal deforestation in the exclusion zone: forests are radioactive and their use is strictly prohibited. However, several Ukrainian companies involved in the timber trade have indiscriminately cut down the trees and used them in construction, including using false documents to export radioactive wood to countries of the European Union as firewood or building material. In order to avoid getting caught for deforesting illegally, these “businessmen” cover up their crimes year after year with large fires that hide their extreme action under water.

Of course, there is a strong corruption actively involved here that has been neutralizing the oversight of police and prosecutors for many years. This winter there was practically no snow, the dryness in the forests became very dangerous and facilitated the spread of fires, but this did not stop the Ukrainian bourgeoisie of the forest industry. The arson caused a terrible ecological disaster, and to think about what might happen in the near future is terrifying.

Second, firefighters do not have adequate technical equipment to deal with the fire. Ukraine lacks extinction helicopters. The entrances to the affected areas do not even have roads, so water pumping vehicles often cannot enter. The fireproof clothing is very old, it does not resist high temperatures. Fire trucks are very old, some no longer have job utility and should have been scrapped long ago. Even so, they continue in activity, since there is no budget in the most corrupt and poorest country in Europe to buy new, more modern units. But the authorities always have money to raise the salaries of high officials and buy expensive foreign cars.

The fire in the vicinity of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the evident inability of the Ukrainian bourgeois government to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic, place the task of socialist transformation before the Ukrainian people. The peripheral model of Ukrainian capitalism leads to a further aggravation of the situation, to the total impoverishment of the workers and to the strengthening of foreign governance. Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine was compounded by the financial dictates of the International Monetary Fund. A growing number of Ukrainian workers, youth and union activists understand the need for a decisive rejection of capitalism. The disaster caused by the fires, with the threat over Chernobyl, has strengthened and confirmed this understanding, as well as our determination.

Ukraine: «Zakhyst Pratsy» («Labor defence») indicates multiple violations of labor rights of workers!

On February 20, 2019 Oleg Vernyk, Chairman of the All-Ukrainian Independent Trade Union «Zakhyst Pratsy» («Labor defence»), took part in a meeting of the Working Group-4 of the Ukrainian side of the Ukraine-EU Civil Society Platform, where a discussion of the Report on the violation of trade union and labor …

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Chortkiv district council against the shameful closure of UkrSibbank in Chortkiv !!!

The scandal about the brutal closure of Branch number 79 of UkrSibbank JSC (BNP Paribas) due to the entry of bank employees into an independent trade union “«Labor defence»” is gaining momentum.

In particular, Chortkiv district council unanimously stood on the side of the Chortkiv employees of the UkrSibbank. Already for the second time head of Chortkiv District Council V.M. Shepeta has sent very timid letter to the management of JSC “UkrSibbank” (BNP Paribas) with requirement to clarify the situation.

We remind that all this time Branch number 79 of JSC “UkrSibbank” (BNP Paribas) was profitable and lucrative, and it occupied a dominant segment on the market of banking services in the Chortkiv district of the Ternopil region.

Management of JSC “UkrSibbank” (BNP Paribas) shortly after receiving information that employees of the department massively joined the ranks of the independent trade union “«Labor defence»” took the brutal decision about closing of the  branch.

Resolution of the Round Table “Efficiency of international technical assistance of the European Union as a factor of reforms …”

In 2014, the Association Agreement was signed between the European Union and Ukraine, which represents a broad and far-reaching action plan for European integration of Ukraine.

At the same time the European Commission approved an ambitious decision to provide Ukraine with a package of support of € 11 billion “over the next few years”. Later this amount was increased to 12.8 billion.

International technical assistance, as well as direct budget support provided by the EU to Ukraine in various sectors, is an important part of this plan.

According to the Government of Ukraine, in particular in 2017, Ukraine received from the EU international technical assistance for 174 million euro.  Continue reading

“ZAHIST PRATZI” (“Labour defense”) AT THE ASSEMBLY OF RESISTANCE IN BUDAPEST

A regional European Assembly of Resistance (AoR) was held in Budapest (Hungary) on March 2-4, 2018, a delegation of the All-Ukrainian Independent Trade Union “Zahist pratzi” (“Labour defense”) consisting of the coordinator of the all-Ukrainian independent trade union “Zahist pratzi” Andrii Ishchenko and a member of the feminine department of the all-Ukrainian independent trade union …

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Trade Union Conference in Kyiv: “Modernization of Ukrainian labour legislation: view of trade union and labour law specialists”

3 December 2016 All-Ukrainian trade union “Zakhyst Pratsi” (“Defense of Labour) conducted its final conference in in Kyiv in the framework with common project with Rosa Luxembourg Foundation (Germany) “Modernization of Ukrainian labour legislation: view of trade union and labour law specialists”. The activists of following Ukrainian trade unions, civil …

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“Modernisation of the Labour Market regulation and adaptation of the labour legislation of Ukraine to the EU norms and standards”

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of Round Table Discussion 
«Modernisation of the Labour Market regulation and adaptation of the labour legislation of Ukraine to the EU norms and standards» –  Kyiv, November 7, 2016

On the threshold of the Third Meeting of the Civil Society Platform EU-Ukraine (which will be held on November 8-9, 2016 in Kyiv) the participants of the roundtable «Modernisation of the Labour Market regulation and adaptation of the labour legislation of Ukraine to the EU norms and standards», held on November 7, 2016 at the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine with the assistance of the Public Council under the Ministry, propose the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform to recommend to the Council of the Association after extensive consultation with the public, which should start as soon as possible, to include in the agenda of the Association for 2017 the following steps in fulfilment of obligations of the Parties put by the Agreement:   Continue reading

RESOLUTION of the Roundtable of trade union and left-wing activists in Odesa

%d0%be%d0%b4%d0%b5%d1%81%d1%8c%d0%ba%d0%b05 November 2015 the Parliament of Ukraine has adopted in the first reading the draft of new Labour Code. As it became clear later, parliament speaker of that timeMr. Volodymyr Groisman has fooled MPs insisting that adoption of the Labour Code is EU demand for visa-free regime for the citizens of Ukraine.

Ukrainian trade union and left-wing activists immediately correctly declared this draft of new Labour Code as predator and anti-worker one. Also we adopted the decision that independent trade unions should immediately take part in the work of the Working group of Parliament committee on the issues of social policy employment and pension provision for making impossible sharp worsening of the freedoms and rights of workers and trade unions via adoption of this draft of new Labour Code. Continue reading