Protest action in Ukraine against anti-social legislative initiatives
On 7 October 2021, Ukrainian trade unions leading by the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine are holding the national warning protest action in Kyiv against the promotion of anti-social, anti-labour and anti-union legislative initiatives. It was decided to organize the protest action on the World Day for Decent Work celebrated each year at the initiative of the International Trade Union Confederation.
The theme for the mobilization: “Let’s protect our labour rights”
Trade unions stress that the interests of people, ensuring decent work, salaries and quality jobs have to be the main principles of government policy to recover economic growth and build a new economy.
However, the reforms initiated by the Government have not yet brought desired results in improving people's lives and well-being. The socio-economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has generated growing inequality and the spread of poverty in society, exacerbating labour market problems, rising utility tariffs, rising prices for energy and essential goods and services.
As a result, in Ukraine:
– the unemployment rate has risen up to 10.5%;
– arrears of wages have increased to UAH 4.0 billion;
– the level of poverty, in particular among the working population, reached 15.8% (income below the actual subsistence level) and 41.3% (expenditures below the actual subsistence level);
– the financial situation in the social insurance system has deteriorated, which led to the late payment of insurance benefits to insured persons (UAH 2.5 billion - debts of the Social Insurance Fund for the payment of temporary disability and maternity benefits, UAH 2 billion – debts of the Social Insurance Fund in case of unemployment for payment of unemployment and partial unemployment benefits);
– COVID-19 is spreading, in particular among healthcare workers (almost 90 thousand reported cases);
– there has been a significant deterioration in working conditions and labour safety, which resulted in an increase in the number of accidents at work by almost 60%. This trend is observed this year as well.
In this situation, despite strong protests from national trade unions, the Ukrainian government is pushing for the new laws restricting workers’ rights and guarantees, depriving them of the right to decent work in Ukraine and trade unions of the right to represent workers and defend their rights.
International trade union movement has repeatedly supported demands of Ukrainian trade unions and urged the Government to abandon its policy of full deregulation and liberalisation of labour and to discuss changes to the labour laws with trade unions.
The Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine is also participating in the national protest action, in solidarity with the FPU and all the trade unions. Supporting the general trade union demands, it has put forward its own sector-specific demands to the Government and the Parliament of Ukraine calling to:
• public spending on education of not less than 7% of GDP;
• implementation of Article 61 of the Law “On Education” and its Final and Transitional Provisions regarding the level of wages of teachers, scientific and teaching personnel;
• to prevent saving on educational subvention and ensure fair reallocation of its remainder;
• to prevent reduction in the size of “prestige” allowance paid to teachers;
• payment of an academic scholarship to a wider circle of recipients;
• adequate level of funding of higher education institutions;
• to restore labour rights of retired teachers;
• voluntary vaccination of teachers;
• to prevent the closure of schools and kindergartens.
After the protest action the representatives of all-Ukrainian trade unions met with the Prime Minister of Ukraine and voiced their demands. Deputy President of the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine, in particular, highlighted the issues of teachers' salaries, scholarships and allowances etc.
«I understand the role of trade unions, their significance and value,» said the Prime Minister during the negotiations. He assured that the constructive social dialogue between the trade unions and the government will be continued aiming to improve the well-being of Ukrainian people.