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05.01.2011

Call for Veto on Law alleged to restrict inconvenient trade unions

   

Ukraine’s trade union leaders are demanding that the President vetoes the Law on Social Dialogue which they believe imposes discrimination and restricts the rights of trade union organizations not close to the regime. They assert that the new law goes against International Labour Organization requirements.

The Law in question was passed in its second reading by the Verkhovna Rada just before New Year and the President is due to sign it in the next 2 weeks. Several nationwide trade union associations are asking him not to do so.

The main flaw to the draft law is the so-called principle of representation when the right of vote in the authorities and access to public funding is given only to the largest trade unions, mainly those which remain from Soviet times, the Co-Chair of Democratic Trade Unions of Ukraine, Oleksiy Klyashtorny, says. According to his information, in that way trade unions with close links to the government will gain control over several billion UAH from Social Security Funds and from employees who have union contributions deducted without their consent.

According to the new law, most rights will be received by those trade unions that prove that no less than 3% of the employees in that field are their members, or at least 2% of those working in a particular region, Mr Klyastorny explains.

“There will be enormous scope for doctoring the figures. Each ministry will choose the trade unions it finds convenient. In conditions where the largest employer in the country is Dmyro Firtash, trade unions inconvenient to the government will be pushed out of public dialogue. The new law envisages that possibility”.

Mykhailo Volynets, Head of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine, predicts that such an attempt by the government to monopolize the trade union movement is doomed.

“By means of the Labour Code and the Law on Social Dialogue they will bring in slave labour in Ukraine. What will that lead to? It is impossible in Ukraine to devalue an employee so easily, since the most qualified and the young will go abroad and those who remain will revolt”, he believes.

He says that another flawed document is that creating a separate State body which alone will determine which trade unions are representative, and which not.

According to one of the authors of the draft bill on Social Dialogue, Mykhailo Paliyev, former National Deputy and presently Head of the Chernivtsi State Administration, laws regulating social dialogue are elements of civil society and function in most developed States.  He asserts that ILO in documents which Ukraine has ratified envisages dialogue between the government, employer and employees. The State, he says, takes decisions only after discussion by all parties, and he sees this as reflecting the importance of the draft bill as confirming that Ukraine is developing civil society.  “The positions of trade unions are mixed because not all accept the concept of representation. However at the demand of the  International Labour Organization this must be established at State level”.

In general specialists see in this law the lobbying of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine, which is close to the government. However they predict that soon after the adoption of the law independent and small trade unions will unite and eventually gain the right of vote.

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