Ukraine’s government puts oligarchs and multinational enterprises ahead of its own people

On 27 December, the neo-liberal Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine submitted to the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) a new draft law on labour published earlier in the month which will strip workers of legal protections, and unions of their ability to protect them. In doing so, the Ukrainian government sided decisively with oligarchs and multinational enterprises against its own people.

Ukrainian trade unions believe the new draft law will result in:

  1. easy dismissal of employees at any moment, on employers’ whim;
  2. short-term individual labour contracts and zero hours contracts;
  3. overtime becoming the norm, paid at a fifth of current rates, with normal working hours likely to exceed eight hours a day;
  4. abolition of some social guarantees and reduced protection for mothers with small children, making their dismissal even easier;
  5. the possibility to transfer an employee to another workplace without their consent; and
  6. no collective bargaining, excluding unions from the workplace.

Further details can be found here:

The draft law was introduced without consultation with trade unions, and has been drafted to contain only 99 articles, so that it receives only limited consideration in the Parliament. The government has refused to seek the assistance of the International Labour Organization, no doubt because the draft law breaches several ILO conventions.

The Pan-European Regional Council of the ITUC adopted a resolution condemning the proposals in mid-December, calling on the government of Ukraine to withdraw the draft and seek ILO technical assistance. And just days later, the European Trade Union Confederation pledged to raise the issue with the European Commission and Parliament on the basis that the draft law contradicts the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said:
“Ukraine’s government is siding with oligarchs and multinational corporates against workers, the public and unions. Global unions will stand shoulder to shoulder with our sisters and brothers in Ukraine. They deserve decent work, living wages and control over their work-life balance. We condemn the Ukrainian government’s reckless breaches of its international obligations, which risk losing the country crucial support in Europe and the global community.”