By Oleg Vernik, Vitali Dudin. Labor Defense Union
This article is being written while a great scandal has just broken out in Ukraine. The chairperson of the Parliamentary Commission for Social Policy, Galina Tretyakova, author of the anti-union bill No. 2681, has publicly stated that “poor quality” children are born to poor Ukrainian families in need of state social assistance. In addition, she has said that she is impressed by Singapore’s experience with its forced sterilization of mothers who cannot raise their children without state support.
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In this context of sad analogies with eugenics, Hitler’s pseudoscience, the attack by the presidential party “Servant of the People” against the labor rights of Ukrainian citizens seems absolutely expected. Over the past 15 years, successive bourgeois authorities in Ukraine have been trying to “modernize” Ukraine’s labor legislation and, first of all, decree the invalidity of the rules of the Labor Code that has been in force since 1971. Of course, the 1971 Labor Code has already been updated many times and, step by step, it has been losing its functions of protecting workers’ labor rights. However, at this time, the Code remains our outpost in the fight against liberalization of industrial relations in Ukraine exclusively in favor of employers.
What anti-union innovations does the Servant of the People party offer in its draft of Law No. 2681?
1. The powers of union committees (elected union bodies) to require company owners to terminate the employment contract with the head of the company if the latter violates labor laws are revoked;
2. An absolutely senseless restriction is introduced on the formation of more than two unions in one company. Currently, many major Ukrainian companies may even have over 10 different union organizations. In other words, the bosses will create 2 “yellow” unions, while other militant unions will no longer be able to organize in the company;
3. Union committees will lose their right to coordinate the application of disciplinary sanctions (reprimands) to members of union committees;
4. The dismissal of the members of the union committees will be carried out without the agreement of the superior organism of the union;
5. To create a primary union organization, it will take at least ten members, and not three like today. This will result in the impossibility of founding unions in small companies and in autonomous subdivisions of companies.
6. Unions will no longer control the activities of canteens, residences, kindergartens and other social facilities belonging to the company;
7. Unions will not be allowed to require employers to submit documents on workers’ working conditions;
8. Unions will no longer control payroll and state social security accounts;
9. Obligatory deductions of companies to the primary union organizations for the organization of cultural, sports and recreational activities will cease;
10. The ban on bosses from firing former union committee members for 1 year will be removed.
11. The employer will no longer pay union committee members for 6 days a year that are assigned for union training.
Not all the anti-labor innovations in the draft of the criminal law number 2681 promoted by the parliamentary group of the presidential party are listedhere. Today, union rights are under constant attack. Due to irrelevant cases of breach of guarantees and even persecution of trade unions, Ukraine, along with Belarus, occupy the lowest positions in Europe in the ranking of the Global Rights Index of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC Global Rights Index – 2019). A wave of neoliberal reforms by the Zelensky government suffocates Ukraine. However, every day the resistance to this offensive against the popular masses is being strengthened. Both the post-Soviet Ukrainian Federation of Trade Unions and the new independent unions have come together to counter the government’s plans. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and its leader Sharan Burrow have clearly declared to the whole world: “Any successive promotion of the project of Law No. 2681 without a real and significant participation of the unions, as well as its inconsistency with labor standards and the Constitution of Ukraine, will undermine Ukraine’s reputation as a trusted international and trade partner.”
Workers and unions face decisive battles for the preservation of the labor rights of Ukrainian workers. From unity our strength is born!