COVID-19 worsens plight of Ukrainian migrant workers


With the COVID-19 pandemic worsening the plight of many Ukrainian migrant workers in EU countries, PROFBUD, the construction workers' union of Ukraine, held a multi-stakeholder conference on 19 August in Odessa to discuss and address the situation. The event brought together trade union leaders, employers, government representatives, civil society organizations and international organizations.

PROFBUD President Vasyl Andreyev said that the conference is the first national event that they have organised after the lifting of the lockdown in their country, employing the latest communication technologies to hear the voice of international guests who joined online. 

“Being an important issue, it is our union’s tradition to conduct regular conferences on labour migration. This is the third time we’ve visited Odessa to have an open dialogue on the latest developments on labour migration. In the past, we've talked about the Ukrainian migrant workers’ poor working conditions and low wages in many EU countries. With the number of Ukrainian migrants in Europe increasing, there is also a spike in the number labour rights abuses. Worse, COVID-19 exacerbated these issues and introduced us to a new set of problems,” Andreyev explained.  

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson, who addressed the conference through a video message, stressed the need to protect migrant workers starting from their home countries to host countries. 

“BWI has joined the call of fellow global unions and civil society organizations to establish an international claim commission to oversee migrant workers claims on wage thefts and other outstanding issues. To support this commission, we are pushing for the creation of a compensation fund. This is a clear example on how we can protect migrant workers’ rights in the middle of a pandemic,” said.