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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 
Labor Code 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!

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