Ukraine: ITUC concerned about wave of regressive labour laws

photo: AFP

The ITUC has written jointly with the ETUC to senior politicians in Ukraine to raise serious concerns about ongoing regressive labour reforms in the country.

Several draft laws are being considered by the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) that are incompatible with international and regional labour standards. This has been confirmed by several reports, including by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the country.

The letter to the president, prime minister and chair of the Verkhovna Rada explains that in their current form, draft laws 5388 and 5371 contain numerous violations, including:

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

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: “The officials in Ukraine must not ignore this serious criticism of these laws that comes directly from the ILO technical assistance programmes, including with the European Union, which the government benefits from, as well as from labour law experts and Ukrainian unions. The draft laws are simply not compatible with international labour standards.

“We call on the government and Parliament to respect these standards, to fully utilise ILO expertise and assistance, and to sit down with the Ukrainian social partners to work on this together and ensure that all working people benefit from economic, social and democratic change in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, the Verkhovna Rada recently adopted the law “On Stimulating Digital Economy Development”, despite strong criticism by Ukrainian unions. The law establishes a special category of “gig-specialists” and special “gig-contracts” that create the conditions for exploitation. The changes deprive IT workers of pay guarantees, rights to holiday, regulated working hours, safe working conditions, protection against unlawful dismissal, and the rights to join a trade union, strike and conclude collective agreements,

The ITUC Global Rights Index rates Ukraine as 5 – no guarantee of rights for working people.