war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Human rights in Ukraine 2009 – 2010. 16. The right to work



1. Overview

The right to work is a crucial socio-economic right. In accordance with the International Labor Organization (ILO) Statute, general and lasting peace can be established only under condition that it is grounded on social justice. It further stipulates that unsatisfactory working conditions causing injustice, necessity and poverty among large number of people may provoke riots so big as to pose threat to peace and harmony in the world.

Moreover, it is important to understand internal relations between labor and human dignity, since the right to work determines people’s opportunity to engage in work in order to ensure material well-being and personal development in conditions of freedom and dignity, economic security and equal opportunities. Last two years were rather complicated for the Ukrainian economy. Considerable difficulties have existed in the field of ensuring labor rights. The increase in number of unemployed and those working a short working week, remaining on unpaid vacation, with delayed or unofficially paid wages has contributed to considerable decrease in standards of living among the population. It all has demonstrated the existing defects in employment’s ensuring in Ukraine. Official level of unemployment in Ukraine does not reflect its real level, the unemployment benefit is not sufficient for minimum requirements, the mechanism for provision of a benefit for partial unemployment has still not been launched, there are problems with employment of the vulnerable groups of population. These factors demonstrate the State’s non fulfillment of its obligations to guarantee the employment.

It is similarly difficult to claim the adherence to the principle of just remuneration for work. In particular, Ukraine keeps far away from the standards of minimum wage as defined in the European Social Charter. Although the nominal size of wages has somehow increased over the last two years, rising prices on food, transportation, housing and utility bills did not allow to feel it. At the same time, employees of the public sector have not noticed any changes. Since the legislation includes some legal norms which “freeze” their wages at a certain level, often even lower than the minimum wage.

The problem of wage arrears remains sharp, and the State’s measures aimed at its decrease still do not make changes for the better. Similarly, there are crucial problems with providing effective control over the fulfillment of labor legislation. Unfortunately, both wage arrears and infringements of labor legislation remain widely spread in Ukraine.

Apart it is worth indicating that the State has not managed to make any progress in the field of ensuring secure labor conditions over the last years. The number of injuries and work-related diseases keeps on growing and every fourth person in Ukraine work in conditions that do not meet the sanitary-and-hygienic standards. It vividly attests to the inefficiency of measures taken in this field by the State.

2.  Safeguarding employment

The world financial crisis, reduction in manufacturing, financial and material arrears, problems with products sale – it all has caused dismissals of staff. The rows of unemployed are being reinforced by people who until quite recently have considered their working position to be firm and reliable. Nowadays in Ukraine one can observe partial employment and concealed unemployment at the background of further decrease in work productivity.

Existing problems in the field of safeguarding employment and the importance of this field to people are also confirmed by public opinion polls. In particular, according to the poll conducted on September 9 to 16, 2010 by the Sociological Group “Rating”, 60% of the public mentioned the unemployment among the most urgent problems to be solved. In regional terms the problem of unemployment is the most vital for population of the West, Centre and South of Ukraine2.

According to the State Department of Statistics, average monthly number of economically active population at the age 15-70 (figures provided according to the selective survey of the population (households) on average economic activity over the first half-year of 2010) was 22, 1 million people, 20, 2 million of them were engaged in economic activity and the rest (1, 9 million) were unemployed, that is to say people who did not have a job but were looking for it actively both independently and with the assistance of the State Employment Centre. By the end of 2008 the number of this type of unemployed was smaller by far, 1, 3 million people. The Minister of Employment and Social Policy, Vasyl Nadraga also declared the increasing number of unemployed3. The level of employment among the population was 58, 4% at the age 15-70 and 65, 4% at the able-bodied age. The level of unemployment (ILO methodology) among economically active population at the age 15-70 was 8, 5% and 9, 2% among the able-bodied. The number of unemployed citizens registered by the State Employment Centre, by October 1, 2010 was 426, 6 thousand people. However, even the Director of The State Employment Centre, Volodymyr Galytskyy acknowledged in part the imperfection of official statistics saying that the Centre used to register only about one half of those without work. So he did not exclude the possibility that indeed over one million people might be unemployed in Ukraine nowadays4.

It is also confirmed by the figures from the State Department of Statistics, in particular, the number of people registered unemployed by October 1, 2010 was 408, 1 thousand people, or 21, 8% of the unemployed at the able-bodied age as calculated according to the ILO methodology.

There are also discrepancies between vacancies on the one hand, and professional and vocational skills available, as well as where the demand was, on the other. It causes considerable regional differentiation as to registered unemployment. The highest concentration of unemployed was registered in Zhytomyr region and the lowest in Kyiv city.

The demand for employment among those who are registered at the State Employment Centre has increased and by the end of September, 2010 it reached 50 people per 10 vacancies. In regional terms there is still considerable differentiation of the above mentioned index: starting with 2 people in the city of Kyiv up to 319 people in the Khmelnytskyy region5. These figures prove sharp deficit of new workplaces.

However, while dealing with present day situation with unemployment, one should not rely exclusively on figures, especially on official ones. Since the phenomenon of Ukrainian unemployment has its peculiarities, one of them being that official figures can exhibit only the top of an iceberg. And one can only guess about its actual size, inasmuch as there are those who are not registered as unemployed for different reasons, those who form part of the “concealed unemployment”: work a shorter working week, stay on unpaid holidays, receive delayed or unofficially paid wages6.

For instance, according to the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine about 1, 4 million people, or 13% of staff worked part-time or remained on administrative leaves in December, 20097.

It is also worth noting the drawbacks of legislative regulation of employment. Thus, the Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to Some Laws of Ukraine Related to Mitigating the Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Employment of the Population”, adopted at the end of 2008, restricted the rights of citizens who canceled a work contract by mutual consent. In particular, this law established a legal norm according to which persons, who left their jobs by mutual consent and were registered at an employment centre, had the right to receive a benefit only on the 91st day after that. In fact, according to this law people who left a job by mutual consent were equated with those who resigned voluntarily and without good cause. These innovations did not meet the Article 22 of the Constitution of Ukraine and the Constitutional Court of Ukraine acknowledged it with its resolution of April 28, 2009 № 9-рп/2009 recognizing the above mentioned changes as unconstitutional8.

Besides, there are the norms of this Law that discriminate rural residents having plots of land but do not have any other job keep valid. The Law denies their right to be registered as unemployed. Practically, this is a mechanism for artificial reduction of unemployment level, especially in those regions where the majority of these people live. As a result, for instance, the number of unemployed decreased by 35 per cent in Ternopil region9. It is obvious that such a decrease in official figures cannot be an effective measure for struggle against unemployment.

There are also problems related to taking measures aimed at safeguarding employment for vulnerable groups of population, in particular, for the disabled. As stated by the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine the problem of opening new and preserving the existing workplaces for the disabled keeps unresolved. By the beginning of 2010 only 45 thousand or 14 per cent out of 319 thousand of the disabled in the Lviv, Volyn, Rivne and Ternopil regions were engaged in work.

It is caused, in particular, by the fact that 85 % of funds aimed at social, labor and professional rehabilitation of the disabled are spent on operation of rehabilitation centers and organizational and technical provision for the departments of the Fund of Social Security of Disabled of Ukraine. As proved by the Accounting Chamber audit, indeed 7 of 13 main directions of rehabilitation measures were not financed. The mechanism of giving loans and repayable aids for employers to open and preserve working positions for disabled was not in use.

According to submitted reporting, during 2008-2009 644 workplaces were created for the disabled in the Lviv, Volyn, Rivne and Ternopil regions. At the same time, as stated by the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine, indexes from the departments of the Fund of Social Security of Disabled are overestimated and groundless, the majority of created workplaces are not actually confirmed and some of them are not related to employment of the disabled at all.

The Head of the Accounting Chamber, Valentyn Symonenko stated: “Disregarding the principal direction of Fund operation, only 15% of resources are directed to create workplaces for the disabled, the rest is spent on construction and equipment of rehabilitation centers, on operation of departments of the Fund but the main goal – the employment of the disabled – is not met. The raised problems refer not only to the Western region where the audit survey took place, they are nationwide and chronic problems of the disabled in our society”10.

Workplaces are being reduced in specialized manufactures UTOG and UTOS, owned by public organizations of the disabled. Measures on development of business initiative among the disabled and out-work which would allow employment of those with severe health disabilities are not taken11.

There is an urgent problem of young people unemployment. In view of social-economic crisis the youth is one of the most vulnerable groups. Ukrainian legislation defines young people as those from 14 to 35 years old. According to the State Department of Statistics, there are about 15 million young people in Ukraine. 10, 7 million of them are urban residents and 4, 3 million – rural residents.

Analysis of employment of young people proves that the situation is very unstable on youth labor market due to high level of economic passivity among young people. The problem of discrepancies between labor market’s demands and professional education remains unresolved. The research of unemployment rates among population groups broken down by age (ILO methodology) during 2007-2009 (average value for each year, in percentage to the number of economically active population of each age group) registered the highest growth in rate among unemployed at the age of 15-24. This age group is affected above all other groups by financial crisis influence on the country’s economy. The rate was 12, 5 % in 2007 and 17, 8% in 2009, that is it grew in 1, 4 times. These figures prove totally low employment provision for young people

Among reasons for present situation there are also vague legal norms regulating the field of youth employment. Thus, the Law of Ukraine “On Provision of Youth Having Higher or Vocational Education with the First Job and Granting Subsidy to Employer” dated November 04, 2004 № 2150-IV determines the mechanism for granting subsidy to employer who commits to employing graduating students. But this particular law requires clear listing of professions eligible for subsidy and considering regional peculiarities of the labor market.

The Law of Ukraine “On Promotion of Social Formation and Development of Ukrainian Youth” dated February 05, 1993 № 2998-XII ensures provision of socioeconomic, political and legal conditions for social formation and development of youth. The Law regulates creation and operation of youth employment centers as alternative institutions to state employment centers. With the view of providing secondary employment for youth, especially for high school pupils and college students, the law determines a legal status of youth manpower. But this legislation does not resolve the issue of equal provision of the first job for graduating students of state and private educational institutions. There is still a quota based on state order.

Legislation safeguards the development of alternative forms of youth engagement in labor market. One of such forms is entrepreneurship. But this field needs improvement. At present the State lacks sufficient legislation, reformed civil and entrepreneurial laws and favorable tax climate to help the young people in starting their own business12

3. State aid for the unemployed

Unfortunately, up to date neither Article 17 of the Law of Ukraine “On State social standards and social guarantees”, nor Article 23 of the Law of Ukraine “On mandatory State unemployment insurance” are observed as regards to the size of such an aid determined to be not lower than subsistence minimum for the able-bodied.

Since early 2010 the minimum amount of unemployment benefit for people insured was 500 UAH. This amount was set by the board of the Mandatory State Unemployment Insurance Fund October 1, 2008 and then corresponded to 74, 7% of the size of subsistence minimum (669 UAH).

In 2009 the minimum amount of benefit did not change, although actual subsistence minimum for the able-bodied increased up to 872 UAH, or 1, 3 times compared to October, 2009.

And only in August, 2010 (resolution of the board of the Mandatory State Unemployment Insurance Fund “On the minimum amount of unemployment benefit in 2010” since 19.08.2010 № 190) the minimum amount of unemployment benefit was reconsidered and new amounts of this benefit were established:

  • Since September 1 – not less than 665 UAH (74, 5% of subsistence level);

  • Since October 1 – not less than 680 UAH (74, 5% of subsistence level);

  • Since December 1 – not less than 700 UAH (75, 9% of subsistence level).

And the unemployment benefit for those without insurance was set as follows:

  • Since September 1 – not less than 480 UAH;

  • Since October 1 – not less than 490 UAH;

  • Since December 1 – not less than 500 UAH.

At the same time, this increase has just brought back the situation which existed back in 2008. It does not mean the implementation of legislative provisions in this field. The amount of unemployment benefit keeps being inadequate to ensure sufficient standards of living or, at least, meet minimal necessities of people who find themselves in distressing situations.

It is also worth mentioning that not everybody registered as unemployed gets this scanty aid. As stated by the State Department of Statistics, 68, 5% of people with status of unemployed received unemployment benefit as of September, 2010.

As regards part-time employment benefits, it is known that the Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to Some Laws of Ukraine Related to Mitigating the Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Employment of the Population” has introduced some legislative provisions which regulate payment of this type of benefits until January 1, 2010.

Practical payments of part-time employment benefits had revealed considerable difficulties, so it was necessary to improve some provisions concerning allocating funds to enterprises for specific purposes, to ensure correct and unambiguous application of legislative norms which regulate these issues. In connection with this proposals were developed in order to improve legal regulation in this field.

But despite numerous appeals of trade unions and other organizations, legal regulation of payments of part-time employment benefits had not improved and even the validity of the specific provisions was not prolonged after January 1, 2010. At present these provisions are not applied and some bills are submitted to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine aimed at introducing these benefits were not passed.


4. Ensuring decent working conditions

The issue of remuneration for work is crucial in the system of socioeconomic relations since it concerns interests of the main part of population and influences on all the areas of public life. The level of work remuneration determines such basic macroeconomic parameters as social security standards and total effective demand.

Wage is one of main economic categories combining interests of employees, employers and the state and directly influencing on standards of living of the population. One can have the idea of economic situation in any society, its contradictions, achievements, misses based on wage amount, its increases or decreases, timelines of payments.

At the same time domestic standards of work remuneration are rather low. In March, 2010 every sixth employee received minimum wage, every second employee’s gross payroll did not exceed the national average amount. Simultaneously, its share in household incomes is decreasing, at the time that the share of social benefits and other current budget transfers is increasing. The share of wages in household incomes was 44, 8% in 2007, 43, 3% - in 2008, 41, 9% - in 2009, 42, 4% - in the second quarter of 2010, whereas the share of social security was 36, 7; 37, 8 , 39, 6 and 41, 9 % respectively (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Structure of household incomes in Ukraine13

Figures in quantitative distribution of employees by size of wages (Chart 1) prove that every third employee in Ukraine received a wage less than 1250 UAH, which vividly demonstrates low standards of work remuneration in the country.

Chart 1

Figures in quantitative distribution of employees by the size of wages calculated for June, 2010 14

Besides, there are considerable branch discrepancies in work remuneration. In particular, as of June, 2010 an estimated 20% of agricultural workers received a wage less than the lowest index, in construction the number of such workers was over 13%. On the other hand, there is a large-scale regional gap in work remuneration, in particular between work remuneration in the city of Kyiv, in the Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions, on the one hand, and, for instance, in the Volyn, Vinnytsia and Ternopil regions, on the other15.

Especially low wage rates there are in public sector. Improvement of work remuneration of state employees envisages, in particular, the introduction of optimal differentiation of pay bands based on the Single band scale and salaries of varied vocational and qualification group of workers taking into consideration the level of complexity and results of their work; elimination of ungrounded disproportions in work remuneration rates for employees of equal qualification performing work of equal complexity and functional features, and also the wage rise for public sector’s employees.

According to the results of evaluation carried out by the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine concerning regulation of payment conditions in public sector on the basis of Single rate scale, it was concluded that payment system based on Single rate scale for public sector’s employees did not undergo any improvement during 2009 and first half of 2010 and the situation has just become worse.

Government’s decisions taken in this period caused the collapse of rate scale system, provided for public sector, and the leveling of wages. Among them there are: the setting of a salary (wage rate) of first rate employees lower than defined by the law on remuneration and also unsystematic adjustment of payment conditions for some categories of employees.

Having fixed the size of a salary in absolute value lower than a minimum wage in 2009, the Government actually restored “manual control” of wages in public sector.

Hereby, it is worth stressing that the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has not fulfilled any resolution of the Committee of Verkhovna Rada on Social Policy and Labor on setting a salary for first rate employees not lower than minimum wage.

In 2009 the size of a salary (wage rate) of first rate employees was 545 UAH, that is 10-26, 7% less than minimum wage legally defined for particular periods of time. Since January 1, 2010 this size was 555 UAH, since April 1 – 567 UAH, since July 1 – 570 UAH, or about 36% less than legally defined size of minimum wage for respective periods. Explanation is that setting a salary of first rate employees at minimum wage level would require additional budget expenditures of 47 billion UAH, with absent sources to cover16.

Evaluating the situation, the Head of the Accounting Chamber, Valentyn Symonenko, claimed that arguments of the Ministry of Finance concerning lack of financial budget resources to set a salary of first rate employees at level of minimum wage seem not convincing because there are budget resources but they are not distributed among directions of primary importance to the society17

As a result, in late 2009 equal salaries at the rate of minimum wage were set for 1-5 rate employees and in 2010 – for 1-7 rate employees inclusively. It undermines the basis of differentiated work remuneration according to employee’s qualification and means leveling of wages.

The Accounting Chamber of Ukraine ascertains that lack of understanding of negative socioeconomic consequences of low wages keeps causing their unjustifiably low rates in public sector. Wages do not meet their principal goals – recreation of labor force and stimulation of labor . In the first half of 2010 average monthly salary for employees in education (1823 UAH) was 13, 6% less than average monthly pay in economics and 24, 5% less than in industry, in healthcare (1545 UAH) it was 26, 8% and 36, 1%, in culture and sport (1955 UAH) – 7, 3% and 19, 1% less respectively.

This problem was also emphasized by the trade union of education and science. In its letter № 02-5/118, dated March 25, 2010, the trade union stated that the introduction since December 2008 on the basis of government’s resolutions №939, dated 25.10.2008, and № 1117, dated 20.12.2008, of fixed value of 545 UAH to set salaries of any rate on the Single rate scale caused its “freezing” for education and science workers at the rate of October 2008. Work remuneration for 1-5 rate employees is leveled; differentiation in work remuneration for trained experts and employees engaged in unskilled labor is considerably weakened. Average salaries of pedagogical and scientific and pedagogical workers, being 1074 UAH and 1864 UAH respectively, as compared to salaries of industrial workers, being 2201 UAH as of January 2010, do not reach even half of the size guaranteed by the Law of Ukraine “On Education”.

It is also stated in the letter that if the above mentioned mechanism of setting wage rates in public sector, in particular, in education, disregarding value of minimum wage defined by the Law of Ukraine “On Establishing the Minimum Subsistence Level and the Minimum Wage” of October 20, 2009 № 1646, keeps functioning, it will cause losses of 12-21 thousand UAH by every pedagogical worker and of 14-37 thousand UAH by every scientific and pedagogical worker on average over 201018.

Wage arrears are still among the most urgent social issues in Ukraine, since they infringe the rights of workers to a standard of living sufficient for himself or herself and his or her family, to timely payment guaranteed by Articles 43 and 48 of the Constitution of Ukraine.

Results of evaluation of the situation with wage arrears conducted by the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine are not poor: the amount of wages owed to employees in varied sectors was significantly rising during 2008-2009, in 2008 it increased by 1, 8 times (there was the same level of wage arrears in Ukraine in 2005). In 2009 the amount of arrears increased 23, 9% more and by January 1, 2010 reached 1, 5 billion UAH (Figure 2). Hereby, the increase in the amount of owed wages was due to economically active enterprises.

Figure 2. Dynamics of the amount of wage arrears19

The Collegium of the Accounting Chamber analyzed the reasons for such a situation and made a conclusion that the measures taken by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to repay arrears for these years have been non systematic, ineffective and in some cases violating norms of current legislation. The majority of causes of arrears rise are related to ineffective administration system of enterprises and inappropriate control on part of correspondent public authorities.20

Thus, weekly monitorings of the situation introduced by the government in 2009 and activity of the Commission on repayment of arrears of wages, pensions, scholarships and other social payments turned out to be useless because they have not solved the issue in question. Monitoring and reporting to the Ministry of Social Policy just distracted heads of ministries from performing the tasks laid on them in this field.

Due to absence of a clear mechanism for channeling funds, in particular into repayment of wage arrears, assets from the Stabilization Fund were used by the Ministry of Coal Industry (Minvugleprom) at its own discretion. In particular, Minvugleprom instead of repaying wage arrears to coal mining and construction enterprises, channeled part of received resources into other purposes. As a result, 1, 4 million UAH were used inappropriately.

The problem with repayment of wage arrears has not been solved either by the illegal introduction on part of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of targeted reimbursement of value-added tax against repayment of wage arrears. It created unequal opportunities for receiving the stated reimbursement by payers and caused inappropriate application of 6, 7 million UAH by enterprises that had not had any wage arrears.21

Although there is a range of laws on safeguarding timely payments of wages, nowadays regulatory and legal framework to control these issues is incomplete, impeding the creation of effective mechanism for protection of citizens’ rights.

In particular, it is necessary to legally define some additional state guarantees for employees in case of employer’s insolvency. It is especially vital under crisis conditions when bankruptcy of enterprises has become a widespread phenomenon. It is worth noting that ILO “Protection of Workers’ Claims (Employer’s Insolvency) Convention” № 173 of 1992 envisages establishment of an organization in order to guarantee repayment of wage arrears in case of employer’s insolvency. At the same time this Convention is ratified by Ukraine only in part. The Part III of the Convention dealing with protection of workers’ claims by a guarantee institution when payment cannot be made by the employer because of insolvency has not been ratified.


5. Ensuring occupational safety

Under economic and demographic crisis in Ukraine the situation with injuries, state of health and work-related illnesses of employees has aggravated.

Over the last 5 years almost 5 thousand workers have died and above 85 thousand got injured in production. The rate of fatal accidents considerably exceeds a correspondent average index in European countries. The share of workers engaged in harmful to health working conditions has increased up to 30%. The number of newly discovered work-related illnesses is constantly rising (6-7 thousand a year).22

Due to large-scale sickness rates, temporal disabilities, invalidity of the injured, economy loses irreversibly skilled labor capacities, billions of budget and social security funds.

Due to lack of stimuli and strict liabilities system, employers save on work safety and are practically not interested in prevention of possible breakdowns and accidents. All expenses dealing with their consequences are indeed on account of the society and compensation to the injured is paid by the Fund for Social Insurance against Accidents which is lately not able to do it any longer due to shortage of finances.

In Ukraine there is no integrated OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) management system, legal and social business culture. The level of business’s social liability is to be measured not by the amount of charities but by safe working conditions it creates. Unfortunately, statistics prove that every fourth employee in Ukraine works in conditions that do not meet sanitation and hygiene norms, about 80 per cent of enterprises do not meet sanitation and hygiene specifications. As a result, the number of work-related illnesses is growing.

According to Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Policy of Ukraine, Vyacheslav Kolomiets, “Out of total number of those who are engaged in industry, construction and transportation, over 1, 3 million people work in conditions which do not meet sanitation and hygiene norms. There are 300 thousand women among them”. Vyacheslav Kolomiets also mentioned the fact that the issue of injury prevention was not being solved per se meaning a heavy burden on the economy23.

The target system of healthcare for industrial employees that had allowed maintaining workers’ health, detecting work-related illnesses at early stages, rather than in irrevocably running form, as it usually happens now, has been almost eliminated.

Injury in non-productive sector is another highly urgent social issue, its rate being by 70 times higher than in productive sector. Annual losses of economy caused by injuries and deaths of citizens in sectors not connected with production exceed 10 billion UAH which means 2, 5% of gross domestic product of Ukraine.

At present pace of workers’ health deterioration, by 2015-2020 the demand for workforce for leading industries may be met only by 40-45 %, which threatens metallurgical, chemical, coal, mining, energetic and transportation industries with workforce collapse. It is obvious that perspectives of Ukrainian economy growth outlined by the new authorities are cancelled if the present day situation keeps valid.24

It is equally important to draw attention to a number of international standards of occupational safety not ratified by Ukraine. According to National Coordinator of the ILO in Ukraine, Vasyl Kostrytsia, this organization has passed 16 Conventions and 15 Recommendations directly connected with occupational safety during the years of its existence. Ukraine has ratified only 6 out of 16 Conventions.

Last year ILO adopted strategic action plan concerning promotion of two more Conventions – “Occupational Safety and Health Convention” № 155 and “Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention” № 187 providing elaboration of national programs on occupational safety. “These Conventions are crucial in the context of decent work”, emphasized Vasyl Kostrytsia, “However, Ukraine has not ratified these two Conventions yet”.25


6. State control over observance of labor rights

The legislation of Ukraine provides that observance of laws on labor rights is controlled by Ministry of Employment and Social Policy of Ukraine. Observance of legality is supervised by prosecutor’s office authorities.

The Ministry of Employment and Social Policy in accordance with Provision on it (approved by resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of 02.11.2006 № 1543) is a main authority in the system of central executive authorities controlling the observance of labor legislation.

There is the State Committee on Observance of Labor Legislation (Derzhnagliadpratsi) in the Ministry of Employment and Social Policy. The main task of Derzhnagliadpratsi in accordance with Provision approved by the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of 18.01.2003 № 50 is to ensure defense of employees’ rights by state monitoring, in particular, observance of labor legislation (except for questions of occupational safety). Such observance is carried out by means of inspections of economic entities of all forms of ownership. On their basis officers of territorial authorities of Derzhnagliadpratsi prepare reports on administrative infringements and submit them to local courts.

In 2009 Derzhnagliadpratsi and its territorial authorities carried out 11.165 inspections (30% more than in 2008) at 8.199 enterprises. However, according to the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine, State Committee on Observance of Labor Legislation monitors only about 5% out of above 1 million of registered employers that use hired labor per year. First of all, this situation is caused by the fact that limited number of Derzhnagliadpratsi officers is not sufficient to meet all the goals at length. At regional level a work inspector-economic entity ratio is 1:14.427 while annual standard is 60 checks that exceeds prescribed standards by 240 times26

By the Decree of the President of Ukraine of 25.05.2004 № 576 “On urgent measures to complete repayment of wage arrears” the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine was ordered to take measures to consolidate the State Committee on Observance of Labor Legislation, expand its jurisdiction, improve its material and technical provision and work remuneration for state work inspectors, optimize forms and methods of their work. In 2007 in order to execute the order issued by the Prime-Minister of Ukraine providing reinforcement of state control over observance of labor legislation, the Ministry of Employment and Social Policy developed a draft resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on increment of the number of state work inspectors and territorial authorities as to provide two state inspectors per administrative-territorial entity. The Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Justice agreed on the draft resolution without remarks. The Ministry of Finance had made some remarks that were taken into consideration during revision but the indicated resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has not been passed yet.

The General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine has also noted the problem with observance of labor legislation in Ukraine. Thus, according to the results of inspections on following the laws on observance of labor legislation in 2009, there were registered numerous facts of deliberate non-payments of wages by enterprise managers, infringements of their minimum size defined by legislation, illegal payments “in envelopes” and in-kind remuneration, concealed labor relations. Employers do not follow statutory requirement for indexation and compensation to employees of that part of their wage which has been lost due to delays in payment terms. There remains an extremely urgent issue with repayment of wage arrears at bankrupt enterprises.

Summarizing, one can say that although public authorities, empowered to monitor and control the obedience to labor laws, have taken certain measures to provide observance of labor legislation over last two years, their efforts have not led to a considerable improvements in this field.


7. Protection of the labor rights of labor migrant

Nowadays when rates of migration activity are high, the issue of protection of rights and interests of Ukrainian citizens working abroad becomes particularly important. Due to emergence of a difficult situation on domestic labor market and unemployment growth, there are constant departures of Ukrainian citizens abroad in order to find a job. During their stay of Ukrainian labor migrants abroad some situations threatening their lives and health take place frequently. The majority of problems are caused by illegal labor migrants since in this case the state is not able to protect their rights and legitimate interests in full. Consequently, the efficiency of mechanism of provision of Ukrainian labor migrants’ rights depends, first of all, on residence status of Ukrainian citizens abroad. Moreover, another important evidence of the State’s effective protection of its citizens’ rights abroad is an ability to quickly react on internal social changes.

It is worth mentioning that the most protected among Ukrainian labor migrants are those who stay permanently or temporally on another country’s territory on legal grounds and have a proper work permit. But even so, among this category of people there are cases of their rights and legitimate interests’ violations. Thus, for example, according to N. Carpachova, a most common violation against Ukrainian labor migrants is employers’ refusal to hire those Ukrainian citizens who have permanent residency and, since, are automatically eligible for unconditional and unrestricted employment.

So the issue of protection of rights and legitimate interests of Ukrainian citizens who work abroad keeps being vital. It is necessary to admit that unresolved practical questions of international labor migration cause social vulnerability of Ukrainian citizens working abroad; they are discriminated by foreign employers in terms of remuneration, working conditions, occupational safety.

It should be noted that up to date the mechanism for protection of labor migrants’ rights is still imperfect. That is why it is necessary to intensify the process of conclusion of bilateral agreements on employment and social security especially with those countries where remain the majority of Ukrainian labor migrants, in particular, with Italy and Greece. Attention should be paid on imperfections in implementation mechanisms of already concluded agreements which prevent the majority of our nationals from using their rights. Besides, it is essential to constantly monitor the implementation of already active bi- and multilateral agreements in order to increase its efficiency and improve mechanisms of their implementation in the interests of Ukrainian citizens.

Important part in provision of protection of rights and legitimate interests of Ukrainian citizens who work abroad is also played by diplomatic and consular missions of Ukraine. However, very often the efforts of diplomatic and consular missions prove to be not sufficient because there is no real possibility to protect the violated rights of Ukrainian labor migrants.

It is also crucial to apply more intensively the existing universal and regional mechanisms of protection of labor migrants’ rights, in particular, to intensify the process of preparation for ratification of the The United Nations “International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families”of 1990, the International Labor Organization “Migration for Employment Convention” № 97 of 1949 and Convention № 143 of 1975 concerning Migrations in Abusive Conditions and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity and Treatment of Migrant Workers providing basic standards of working conditions, remuneration, living and housing conditions, transportation and social security of employees. It is also worth conducting some explanatory work, in particular, in the media, among Ukrainian nationals on existing mechanisms of protection of labor migrants’ rights.


8. Provision of the rights of trade unions

It should be said on a separate occasion about a part of trade unions in Ukraine. Since Ukrainian trade unions basically remain bureaucratic, official and often rather nominal structures tightly connected with enterprise management and owners.

For a long time the trade union activity in Ukraine has been marked by existing conflict between the Federation of trade unions of Ukraine which is the largest association of trade unions and independent trade union organizations. Serious disputes and conflicts amid trade union movement have made its consolidation of any kind practically impossible. The influence of Ukrainian trade unions on socioeconomic situation in the country – which had not been very tangible either – started to decrease rapidly and the authorities actually stopped paying any attention to them. The most crying instance of fall in trade union prestige became the increase of government price of gas for households without any previous concordance with trade unions as required by the law.

Especially this struggle escalated during intensification of social dialogue between the state, business and employees whose representatives are trade unions.

Thus, in June, 2010 picket rally took place over infringements of rights of independent trade unions. The removal of independent trade unions from participation in negotiation and elaboration of the new General Agreement for 2010-2011 served as a pretext for the rally.

Let us note that the General Agreement is a main document regulating the relation between the state as a controlling authority, nationwide associations of organizations of employers and entrepreneurs and nationwide trade unions and associations of trade unions and regulating basic aspects of social-labor relations.

According to Petro Petrychenko, the General Secretary of the National Confederation of Trade Unions of Ukraine, “Independent trade unions – and there are over 40 nationwide trade unions which represent almost 3, 5 million workers from varied industries – have to protest against excesses of the Federation of trade unions of Ukraine (FPU) whose management created the Joint Representative Organ (JRO) of Trade Unions of Ukraine without independent trade unions participation and initiated negotiations concerning elaboration and conclusion of the General Agreement for 2010-2012 with the government and employers without us. Thus, a considerable number of trade unions stayed completely outside the negotiating process”.

“A considerable part of representatives from independent trade unions were dismissed from the boards of social insurance funds. That is why independent trade unions have lost the possibility to represent their members as insured subjects in all social insurance funds. It may cause uncontrollable consequences and even bigger misappropriation of funds in social insurance field”, stated Petro Petrychenko.

The Independent Trade Union of Miners and Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Ukraine claim the existence of pressure on trade unions activity. In particular, they adduce facts about 40 cases of the infringement of independent trade unions’ rights. Thus, at one coking plant twelve members of the Independent Trade Union of Miners were not allowed to work without warning. The employer explained that these measures were due to the fact these workers … “have changed a structure of the plant”. It proves that business often overlooks the valid laws27

It is also stated that only in two cases of infringement of trade unions rights the employers reacted properly or the courts issued positive orders. On the basis of these infringements independent trade unions have prepared an appeal to the International Labor Organization on the fact of the infringement of independent trade unions’ rights.

The Federation of trade unions of Ukraine (FPU) also claims pressure on it. In accordance with the appeal of this organization, only in 2009 over 100 cases were considered in courts against FPU and its organizations. It is also said that unfortunately some judges did not examine in detail the circumstances of a case, trade unions’ evidences, ignored direct statutory requirements, among them were norms of international law which led to unlawful court orders. Since the majority of statements of claims submitted to different courts had the same contents, the claimants were not members of trade unions, they gave non-existent addresses, incorrect information about their residence and place of work. Besides, it is said that the subject of many cases has been illegal seizures of the FPU property.28


9. Recommendations

  1. Increase unemployment benefit to the subsistence minimum envisaged by legislation;

  2. Improve the legislative regulation and continue the implementation of assistance for partial unemployment benefits.

  3. Reduce high unemployment among the most vulnerable groups of the population, in the first instance, young people, those approaching retirement age and the disabled;

  4. Pass amendments to legislation to remove the discriminatory norms regarding members of the rural population registering unemployed.

  5. Increase the ratio held by wages in the GNP and in the cost value of production;

  6. Bring the minimum wage into line with the demands of the European Social Charter

  7. Ensure effective differentiation of remuneration in the public sector through the application of a single system of pay bands, eliminate the practice of setting base salary (wage rates) and tariff category of employee at a rate lower than the law on labor.

  8. Take measures to improve pay in State bodies in order to ensure social protection of ordinary employees, removing the system of concealed earnings established through the awarding of various bonuses and supplements which are more dependent on loyalty to the management, than on productivity.

  9. Reduce wage arrests for employees of the public sector, and also take measures aimed at minimizing wage indebtedness at enterprises and organizations of any type of ownership.

  10. Improve the system of work safety in order to reduce industrial accidents and work-related illnesses, including through improvements to legislation in this area, as well as carrying out prevention programmes.

  11. Improve control over adherence to standards and requirements in the sphere of protection of labor and ensure swift and efficient investigations into cases of injury.

  12. Improve State control over observance of labor rights and create effective mechanisms for reacting to violations.

  13. Conclude international agreements in the area of employment and social protection of labor migrants with countries where a considerable number of Ukrainian nationals are working, where such agreements have not been reached.

  14. Conclude necessary international agreements with aim to improve protection of labor migrants in the area of employment and social protection.

  15. Ensure strict observance of the rights of trade unions, and promote the development of a strong and independent trade union movement.


1 By Maksym Scherbatyuk, UHHRU.

2 The biggest problem of Ukraine is unemployment , a poll

3 There are about 2 million of unemployed in Ukraine

4 Is the level of unemployment in Ukraine lower than in Europe?, , 5386624, 00.html

5 Figures from the State Department of Statistics of Ukraine

6 Sharp facets of the labour market // Dzerkalo tyzhnya, № 34 (814) 18 – 24 September, 2010

7 Information related to administration of the State Budget of Ukraine in 2009 as prepared by the Department of Budget Politics and approved by resolution of the Collegium of the Accounting Chamber

8 The Constitutional Court explained how unemployed collect their benefit

9 Does unemployment not rise because labour exchanges do not “see” rural residents?

10 Unemployed invalids want to work

11 European standards, Ukrainian problems

12 Youth unemployment and problems with developing youth entrepreneurship

13 Figures from the State Department of Statistics of Ukraine

14 Figures from the State Department of Statistics of Ukraine

15 Figures by the State Department of Statistics of Ukraine

16 The Accounting Chamber of Ukraine: Collapse of pay rate system in public sector continues…

17 Ibid.

18 Letter of the Central Committee of trade union of education and science of Ukraine № 02-5/118 dated March 25, 2010

19Accounting Chamber of Ukraine. Bulletin prepared on the basis of Report on results of evaluation of the situation with wage arrears. – Kyiv: Accounting Chamber of Ukraine, 2010.

20 Accounting Chamber of Ukraine. The phantom of wage arrears is back…

21 Accounting Chamber of Ukraine. The phantom of wage arrears is back…

22 FPU initiates creation of National Strategy for work safety

23 “Decent job – safe job”. Round table, sharp corners, or how to reach a common understanding of tasks

24 FPU initiates creation of National Strategy for work safety

25 “Decent job – safe job”. Round table, sharp corners, or how to reach a common understanding of tasks

26 Accounting Chamber of Ukraine. Bulletin prepared on the basis of Report on results of evaluation of the situation with wage arrears. – Kyiv: Accounting Chamber of Ukraine, 2010.

27 Independent trade union of miners demands transparency and legitimacy of the reforms//Aspect №36, October 2010

28 FPU is against illegal interference in the internal activity of trade unions



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