Ukrainian farm workers could be left without pensions
Former kolkhoz workers are unable to prove how long they have worked and therefore receive the pension they earned. The problem could be faced by thousands of Ukrainians who have worked on the land all their lives. The problem is especially acute for women who worked as milkmaids or tractor drivers who because of the difficult conditions have the right to early retirement.
Since a lot of kolkhoz archives were lost during agricultural reforms, many people are unable to prove how long they worked.
Zinayida Barenyk, for example, worked for 27 years as a milkmaid without any weekends or public holidays. She got up at the crack of dawn each day to milk the cows. She expected to be able to retire on a pension at 50, however she has been unable to prove her work record. The officials refuse to believe either her or the witnesses that confirm how long she worked.
They simply demand the original documents, saying that witnesses can only confirm the general situation, not her specific harsh conditions.
Human rights activist Oleksandr Sosenko is blunt: he sees the present difficulties being made as a ploy to help the Pension Fund save money. The farm workers often refuse to drag the case through the courts, lacking either the knowledge or the time for this.