Ukrainian Parliament must stop its renewed attacks on workers’ rights

After the Ukrainian labour movement, with international solidarity help, reverted attacks of the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) on workers’ and trade union rights in 2019 and 2020, the parliamentarians are again considering several law proposals, which if adopted, would clash with international and regional labour standards and would seriously limit workers’ rights and the ability for trade unions to represent the workers. This has been confirmed by several reports, including by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). 

Vasyl Andreyev , President of PROFBUD – the Building Workers’ Union of Ukraine stated:  “While struggling now together with all people in Ukraine against military aggression East of the country, workers also have to fight attempts by the Ukrainian Parliament of taking away their rights; deteriorating the level of their labour and social guarantees; depriving unions of their authorities and possibilities in the labour market, in social security bodies, in negotiating rights and strikes; of confiscating offices and prosecuting union officials. This is not what our country needs in the existential crisis we are experiencing.”

The draft laws with numbers 5388 and 5371 contain numerous violations of the international standards, including:

  • Excluding working people in small and medium sized enterprises from the protection of the general labour law;
  • A lack of safeguards to ensure that work contracts comply with minimum labour standards;
  • Allowing employers to abuse the system and use successive fixed-term contracts; 
  • A lack of compatibility with requirements to guarantee working time, rest periods, minimum daily rest, overtime and leave.

This again without consulting the social partners.

BWI Secretary General Ambet Yuson called on the government and Parliament to respect the international standards and work together with the social partners and the ILO to ensure that all workers can benefit from any reforms that could foster economic development, provide social protection and foster the democratic processes in Ukraine. "The attempts of a backward development in the Ukrainian labour laws have been discussed on several occasions in the Pan-European Regional committee, if needed, I’m sure that the Ukrainian colleagues can count on our international solidarity," he said. 

EFBWW General Secretary Tom Deleu reminded that under the association treaty between the EU and the Ukrainian republic, progress should be achieved in political, economic and legal areas. This also includes the respect for workers’ rights, both in Ukraine and abroad. “In that regard, we are very alarmed by the growing number of Ukrainian construction workers moving to EU countries, often working and living in very precarious conditions and without any protection from the Ukrainian government. Recently, there were severe accidents in several EU countries, including Belgium, resulting in serious injuries and even death without the government taking action. We insist that migration must always take place in safe and secure circumstances. Ukrainian workers and families cannot be left behind!”

Vasyl Andreyev once again expressed, on behalf of construction and building materials workers, sincere gratitude to the international  trade union solidarity coordinated by BWI and EFBWW, which helped them to resist the drastic labour and trade union legislation change proposals in 2019 and 2020.