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Ukrainian unions oppose anti-worker labour law reform

Together with other drafts submitted in December last year, the latest draft, №2708, only protects employers’ interests and deprives workers of their rights and social guarantees. If adopted, the drafts would abolish union committees at company level, undermine union capacity to protect workers and would eventually lead to the elimination of trade unions in Ukraine.

Close to thousand union members picketed the building of the parliamentary committee for social politics on the day of the review of the draft law On Labour. The draft contradicts national law, including the Constitution of Ukraine, and core international labour standards, including ILO Conventions 87, 131 and 98.

The recent draft consists of 99 articles and is meant to regulate all labour relations. Both recent and the earlier drafts submitted to parliament in December 2019 are full of anti-worker legal provisions, including: the possibility to set a 12-hour working day instead of the current 8 hour limit; reduction of overtime payments, allowing the payment of 120 per cent instead of the current double time; additional opportunities for easier dismissals, including that of pregnant women and women on maternity leave at the employers’ discretion; abolishment of additional leave for workers employed in hazardous industries, for parents with many children and mothers of disabled children; and the elimination of social guarantees for vulnerable categories of employees.

On 16 January, leaders and representatives from 60,000 local unions that represent 7,000,000 union members in Ukraine gathered in Kiev for an activity by the All-Ukrainian Trade Union Council for the protection of workers’ constitutional, labour and socio-economic rights and unions. Although invited, neither the president nor prime minister attended the event.

The Council adopted a resolution with the unions’ demands, including:

  • Demand that the state authorities immediately withdraw the draft law On Labour №2708 and invite ILO experts to examine of any new drafts law on labour, trade unions and social security;
  • Demand that the government launch fair labour law reform through tripartite social dialogue in full compliance with national and international law;
  • Propose the adoption of a Labour Code of Ukraine on the basis of two drafts (№ 2410 and 2410-1) previously submitted to the parliament and already examined by the ILO;

After the adoption of the resolution, participants marched to the buildings of the president, parliament and government where they handed over a copy of the resolution.

Valeriy Matov, IndustriALL Global Union executive committee member and chairman of Atomprofspilka union said:

“The Council submitted the union resolution to the state authorities. We demand that they withdraw the draft law On Labour and enter into genuine social dialogue on labour law reform. Otherwise the unions will hold the All-Ukrainian protest action on 30 January”. 

Kemal Ozkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary said,

“Together with our affiliates, national and global unions, we strongly oppose to the labour law reform without proper consultations with unions in Ukraine. We urge the parliament of Ukraine to immediately remove the draft law On Labour №2708, and call on the government of Ukraine to launch tripartite negotiations with representatives of workers and employers with the view to adopt a Labour Code in strict compliance with the national and international labour legislation and conventions ratified by Ukraine.”

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