Ukraine: Stop wage drop pandemic
In the first week of September, the Construction and Building Materials Workers Union of Ukraine (PROFBUD) launched a public campaign to demand wage increases and a sustainable wage protection system in the country.
Dubbed as “PROtect WAGES! Stop Wage Drop Pandemic,” the PROFBUD campaign demands the following:
- Increase minimum wage and involve trade unions in wage negotiations
- Increase unemployment benefits
- Open list of employers, received wage subsidies and new wage subsidy programs for all the workers
- Adequate penalties or other appropriate remedies for any violations of wage protection measures, including wage arrears, envelop wages and forced unpaid leave
- Development of guarantee institutional fund for workers wage claims in case of employer insolvency
- Stop State Labour Service (labour inspection) lockdown to control wage legislation enforcement
“For many years we were campaigning for a wage increase in construction and building materials sectors. We have argued that low wages are the main factor that pushes Ukrainian workers to migrate to EU countries. The COVID-19 crisis also showed how unprotected Ukrainian workers are. There is an urgent need to build up a sustainable wage protection system in the country and to ensure implementation of all the relevant ILO standards on wage protection,” PROFBUD President Vasyl Andreyev said.
PROFBUD explained that even if there was no ban on construction during the lockdown in Ukraine, the workers were heavily affected by the massive restrictions and the lack of protective measures. Under such conditions, the union said that workers have no access to public transport and many roads were blocked. Workers also received incomes lower than the usual as employers cut the flexible part of their wages. Employers also pressured workers to take unpaid leaves, and in the building materials sector, many employers requested for a postponement of CBA-agreed salary increases.
Andreyev said that their campaign includes the publishing of advocacy materials on social media and calling on affiliates to organise trade union actions to push their demands for wage increase and wage protection. Lviv and Odessa were some of the places were the first protest actions took place.
BWI Pan Europe expressed its full support to the campaign. “We are in solidarity with PROFBUD in their campaign to protect and secure the income of workers. The workers of Ukraine have suffered so much as a result of this pandemic. Employers should honour their obligations to their workers, especially those stipulated in their CBA, instead of using the health crisis to lower labour costs and increase their profits at the expense of the working people.”