Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Social and economic rights

Forced labour and not paid, but do nothing or we’ll sack you


Women working at the Yanovska refining plant in the Luhansk region have been on strike now since Wednesday. As if the conditions that these women work in were not shocking enough, they have virtually not been paid for over three of the last six months. Their wages are pitiful anyway, and they have been driven by necessity to go on strike. Their employers are attempting to fire some of them, and help and support is urgently needed.

Representatives of the staff informed a local human rights committee of their problems and about the strike on 3 July. There are 330 employees at the factory, most of them women. They earn a meagre wage, calculated according to the official minimum wage of around 350 UAH [around 50 USD] per month for most of the staff. It is only in the refining unit, where the work is gruelling, that the minimum wage is “high” – 515 UAH a month, although according to the law, from 1 January to 1 July 2009 the minimum wage was 625. In general the women doing this back-breaking work earn between 700 and 1,100 UAH per month.

If they’re paid

The workers have been trying to receive wage arrears since March by turning to the Prosecutor’s Office and the Conciliation and Mediation Service, but to no avail. When none of this helped, the workers went on strike.

On Friday they decided to create an independent trade union, to which the factory administration reacted immediately. In gross violation of the Constitution and legislation, an order was issued to dismiss four of those actively involved in asserting their constitutional rights. “You’re used-up material”, they were told.

Members of the human rights organization have advised the women not to sign the orders for their dismissal. and to put their complaints in writing to the administration and the Prosecutor’s Office. It also sent an appeal for help to the Human Rights Ombudsperson, and it would seem that there has been a phone call from the Ombudsperson’s Secretariat however no more details are available.

From information provided by Mykola Kozyrev from the human rights organization the women turned to

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