Tense November for Ukrainian Teachers’ Union
In December 2017 the State Budget 2018 is to be passed in Ukraine. The draft budget does not fully satisfy the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine, TUESWU, nor other trade unions of Ukraine, in particular with respect to the social and economic welfare for workers.
That’s why November was rich in trade union events and activities.
On 1 November 2017, a peaceful action gathered thousands of Kyiv teachers who protested against cuts in educational subvention in 2018. According to the local trade union, the proposed 2018 budget foresees only UAH 2,7 billion (about €84 million) for Kyiv city, far from the UAH 3,9 billion (about € 120 million) needed. In other words, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine cut financing for teachers of the capital by UAH 1,2 billion (about € 37 million).
A meeting between trade union representatives and the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine took place in parallel to the protest action. During the meeting, trade union organisations expressed their clear remarks and concrete constructive suggestions aimed at increasing the social and economic welfare for public workers and establishing decent and fair pay. It was decided to continue consultations and to set up a working group to agree positions on this issue.
On 7 November 2017 in Kyiv, the leaders of the trade union organisations of the country met with the Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman. They emphasized critical issues of the development of Ukraine, social sphere, effective protection of workers’ rights and interests and voiced their disagreement with some provisions of the draft State Budget.
Trade union representatives underlined that proposals made by trade unions at different stages of the budget process had been mostly ignored despite Government’s obligation under the General Agreement. They concern adequate financing of some sectors from the State Budget, setting of the minimum wage not lower that the actual living wage.
TUESWU President, Georgiy Trukhanov, stressed, among other things, the inadequacy of resources allocated to education in the draft state budget 2018 and non-compliance with the guarantees of labour pay provided in the Law on Education.
Georgiy Trukhanov underlined that education workers, first of all, demanded that the Ukrainian authorities should comply with the applicable legislation on education and, in particular:
- allocate at least 7% of the GDP to education in the 2018 state budget;
- increase educational subventions in order to meet legislative requirements concerning teachers’ wages;
- set the salary for education personnel in the lowest qualification category amounting to three minimum costs of living (about € 170);
- approve the scheme of teachers’ salaries respecting the correlations between different qualification levels as provided by the Law on Education.
Georgiy Trukhanov also raised the issue of students’ scholarships that should be set at least at the level of minimum cost of living. The further functioning of the VET schools is unclear.
TUESWU President emphasized, “Reforms without teachers’ involvement are not possible and we should do all the necessary to attract the best students into the profession”.
Trade union’s national protest action, planned on 14 November, was postponed due to the renewal of the negotiations with the Government.
On 30 November another meeting with First Vice Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv was held as a follow up to the meeting with the prime minister. TUESWU President Georgiy Trukhanov underscored that to ensure normal work of the school system it is necessary to increase educational subvention from the state budget 2018 by UAH 5,64 billion (about € 180 million);
On 5 December trade unions held a press conference for mass media to highlight their demands to the State Budget 2018.
On 6 December in Kyiv, representatives from colleges and vocational schools from across the country picketed the state authorities. The main demand to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was to not hand over the financing of higher education institutions of the I-II accreditation levels – vocational schools and colleges – from the state budget to local budgets and to safeguard the current financing mechanism.
The State Budget is expected to be approved by the mid-December. After its adoption the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine will analyze how its demands have been taken into account and decide on the further actions.
ETUCE supports its member organisation in its requests and closely monitors the situation in Ukraine.