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.




1. Overview

      The right to work serves as one of the foundations for the whole range of economic and social rights. Its implementation creates material values and provides for further accumulation of wealth. The state also declares its importance. However, the violations of the law, which establishes guarantees for labor rights, become commonplace in Ukraine, and government actions on granting employment and the right to work continue to be ineffective.

      The official unemployment rate is still at a fairly low level; in fact out of 20 million people of working age only 13 million are officially employed and about 5 million people are out of the legal labor market. In addition, wages being offered by the vacancies are so low that no one wants to work for such low pay, and so many vacant positions remain open for years.

      There exist huge problems regarding the right to a decent remuneration of labor. The share of wages in the cost of goods and services remains low. About 60% of the population receives below UAH2500, and the salary of a large proportion of people is below the minimum level.

      There also persists the problem of wage arrears. It remains at high level, and particularly acute this issue is with miners, doctors and teachers.

      The employees of government-financed organizations are usually lower-paid salaried workers. This is due, in particular, to the fact that despite legislative guarantees the salaries of employees of the 1st wage grade of the unified scale of rates is set lower than the minimum wage. And despite the demands and protests of trade unions, the state does not change anything in this area.

      The safety arrangements and precautions remain unsatisfactory in Ukraine. The state managed to decrease the number of industrial accidents in the mining industry, but it still remains rather high. Moreover, the traumatism in low risk areas increased, primarily in water supply and sewerage systems, socio-cultural sphere, light and textile industries. There is also the problem of inadequate investigations of cases of traumatism and occupational diseases and concealment of such cases.

      Until now the international treaties protecting the rights of migrant workers, especially those who are not registered in the host countries have not been ratified. Moreover, there are countries with a large number of Ukrainian labor migrants, with which Ukraine has no signed bilateral agreements that could be used to protect the rights of these people.

      Another significant problem for the protection of labor rights in Ukraine is related to weakness of trade unions. In labor relations the employers continue to dominate employees, and unions often play a role of "departments of social protection" under the company's administration. It is also important to note the weakness of legislation aimed at protecting union leaders and employers' liability provisions for violation of trade union rights. However, the lack of authority in the majority of trade unions is still the major problem; therefore the activity of trade unions to protect the rights of its members is very low.




      There was no appreciable progress in reducing unemployment in 2012. One reason is the lack of hoped-for large foreign investments. And domestic entrepreneurs in the majority do not see the sense in risky investments in large projects, creation of new and even preservation of existing jobs.

      According to the research of sociological group "Rating" conducted in Ukraine from May 11 to June 14, 2012 54% of Ukrainians consider unemployment the most important problem for Ukraine[2].

      In 2012 in Ukraine, one in five young people under 25 had no work, and the same is true of those who are over 50 years old. 40% of university graduates are arranged to work not according to their specialism. Only one in ten staffers has a chance to improve their skills[3].

      However, according to the State Statistics Service, the reported unemployment rate in Ukraine in July 2012 decreased by 2.1%, or 9.2 million people, and on August 1 made 437.8 thousand, which is 1.6% of the working age population.

      But if we take as a basis the methodology of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the level of unemployment in Ukraine in January-March 2012 was 8.4% (population aged 15-70). According to the ILO, in the reporting period there were 1.845 million people unemployed.

      These figures are confirmed by the Ministry of Social Policy, which in one of its reports said that at the end of summer of 2012 in Ukraine the unemployment rate made 7.8%, youth unemployment–20%, 10% unemployment among people of retirement age and 30%–in rural areas[4].

      The trade union organizations claim even larger scale unemployment. Thus, according to the National Forum of Trade Unions of Ukraine M. Yakibchuk, actually there are 5 million unemployed in the country, and that does not include seasonal fluctuations, while in summer there occurs seasonal employment[5].

      In general, there are two main problems concerning the labor market in Ukraine. The first one is linked to black economy. According to Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov, out of 20 million people of working age only 13 million are officially employed and about 5 million people are out of the legal labor market. Thus, only 13 million pay contributions to social funds. Of these, according to expert of Razumkov Center Pavlo Rozenko, one half is paying them with lower limits[6]. Besides, these workers are totally unprotected. The employer is under no social obligation against them; s/he feels no responsibility in this case[7].

      The second problem is cheapness of labor. The employment does not protect people from poverty. Thus, Director of the Kyiv Oblast Job Center Vasyl Yakobinchuk said that employers offer them low-wage jobs only, which attract very few job-seekers. He also said that in almost 30% of vacancies submitted by employers to the job service propose minimum wage. (Today the minimum wage in Ukraine is UAH1,094.) Thus a very small proportion of vacancies exceed the average wage[8].

      According to the survey conducted by portal, 55% Ukrainians believe that their salary does not meet the level of their education and skills. More than a quarter of respondents indicated that they were significantly underpaid. Case in point: 41% of respondents are willing to leave the company for another offer with the same position and the same salary. It would be difficult to make a decision for 12% of respondents, and only 16% do not intend to change jobs. Even more deplorable picture emerged after the survey of respondents of the portal concerning their readiness to change jobs for higher position and higher salary. The loyalty to their employer is shown only by 7% of Ukrainian people. More than half of respondents would agree to leave the former job[9].

      It should be noted that only 100,000 Ukrainians officially earn more than UAH18,000 a month.

      Also on the labor market there are very serious regional deformations. Former head of the Ministry of Economy Bohdan Danylyshyn noted that the average regional labor supply exceeds demand by 30 times, including in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast by 329, Volyn––137, and Lviv––103 times. From 20 to 50% of the unemployed in regions do not work more than one year[10]. On the other hand, there are regions where the situation looks much better.

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine became concerned about employment of compatriots and adopted the Law "On Employment". It will take effect on January 1, 2013. But nobody knows if it helps people and be an effective tool to combat unemployment.

      Representative of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Ukraine Vasyl Kostrytsia noted that this law will have a positive impact on the development of modern labor market[11]. The trade union organizations, including the National Forum of Trade Unions of Ukraine, noted that the state is not acting now as a controller, but as a regulator of relations between the employer and employee, but also emphasize the fundamental flaw of this law[12][13]. Thus, according to Head of the National Forum of Trade Unions of Ukraine Myroslav Yakibchuk, the new law "On Employment" is intended only to change the subordination of unemployment insurance, and not to solve the unemployment problem in the country[14]. He also noted that today the fund is, in fact, the united body; it is managed by employers, state and its own policyholders, 15 representatives each. Now they offered to cut the number of representatives to five and, moreover, to actually subordinate the fund to the minister of social policy. This law does not address the problem of legal employment; however it contains some progressive provisions. The purpose of the bill is to expand the powers of individual officials and step up the state influence in the field of labor relations.

      Deputy Chairman of the National Forum of Trade Unions of Ukraine Hryhooriy Kabanchenko noted that the new law contains several provisions that clearly need to be changed. Vice prime minister Tigipko, allegedly at the request of trade unions, rejected the idea of free semiannual training for young specialists. The law contains a provision under which a probationary employee signs a contract, but no article of the agreement specifies that this training should be should be paid for in any case[15].

      In his turn, Head of Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises of Ukraine Vyacheslav Roy said that it is a populist bill[16].

      Also member of the Party of Regions Vasyl Khara (former Head of the Trade Union Federation) said that the approved law destroys the social insurance system and converts the Social Insurance Fund into a department of the Cabinet. "If you look at this bill and read it, you can but clap up, because the question is right, the question is relevant. But, in my opinion, this bill today is more populist than practical, unfortunately,” said Khara[17].

      According to Pavlo Rozenko, expert of the Razumkov Center, the bill on employment, which is designed to solve the problems of the labor market, is openly declarative, general and pre-electoral. "Rather, it shows the public how the government takes care of the problems of employment. But there are no real rules and mechanisms that fundamentally change the situation on the labor market,” said the expert[18].

      Also, it seems that the laws on employment and on the promotion of investments in priority sectors of the economy, which the Party of Regions is so proud of, have been adopted too late. As recently reported the newspaper "Odeski Visti" quoting Mayor of Izmail Andriy Abramchenko, the Izmail Commercial Sea Port cut 200 people, that is every tenth worker, and Ukrainian Danube Shipping let out 350 specialists, which made almost 12%.

      In Ukraine the downsizing was begun by the auto industry, which suffered greatly from Russia’s introduction of utilization fee. In September, the Zaporizhzhia Automobile Plant, the largest Ukrainian car maker, cut 2012 production plans by 18-25% allegedly attributed to the cost-reduction optimization of production. In practice it turned out to be a personnel reduction. The same "medicine" for critical problems was prescribed by other leading automobile companies: "Bohdan" and "Eurocar". According to the media, 30% of staff was sacked at the Bohdan plants in Lutsk and Cherkasy. The "Eurocar" cut 800 skilled employees. According to Oleg Boyaryn, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Company, the plant may be shut down in 3 to 4 months[19].

      The small business is also actively following the trail. Fewer Ukrainians are working for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. By 2011 the number of employed workers summarily dropped by more than 0.5 million.

      During the year the number of employed working for physical persons–entrepreneurs–decreased by 443,000 down to 2.37 million, and in small businesses (businesses employing less than 50 persons and with annual turnover below UAH70 million) decreased by 75,000 down to 2.07 million workers[20].


      3. Unemployment relief

      In 2012, the Ukrainian Govermnent went on slightly increasing minimum size of unemployment benefits for the formerly insured employees; the size of the benefits made as follows: January 1: UAH 825; April 1: UAH 841; July 1: UAH847; October 1: UAH 860; and December 1: UAH 872. At the same time, the payments to the officially unemployed remained at the level of 2011, i.e. UAH 544.

      It will be recalled that the living wage in 2012 was as follows: January 1–– UAH 1017; April 1–– UAH 1037; July 1–– UAH 1044; October 1–– UAH 1060; December 1–– UAH 1095.

      It should be noted that 37-39% of the unemployed who are registered with the state employment service, receive the minimum benefit, currently making only 76.9% of subsistence and by UAH221 below the poverty level[21].

      In fact, in 2012, they continued ignoring the legal provisions of the Law of Ukraine "On State Social Standards and Social Guarantees" and the Law of Ukraine "On compulsory social insurance against unemployment" specifying that the amount of such benefit should not be less than the minimum subsistence for the working person.

      At the same time, up to now function the final provisions of the law "On compulsory social insurance against unemployment", which are in contrast to many articles of the same Law, which define minimum benefits in the amount of subsistence and specify that before the stabilization of economic situation in Ukraine the minimum unemployment benefits for certain categories of citizens are determined by the board of the Fund of compulsory state social insurance of Ukraine in the case of unemployment during the approval of the budget of the Fund based on its actual capabilities.

      This provision provides the legal basis for the state to establish the size of benefits at a level that is insufficient to provide even lower-than-minimum conditions for human survival.

      Unfortunately, the trade unions have not managed to convince their social partners represented by employers and the state bodies that there is an acute necessity of raising the minimum unemployment benefit to a subsistence level designated by law. Such solution needs additional UAH40 million. And this is despite the fact that fund of compulsory social insurance against unemployment is the only social insurance fund, which for the third consecutive year has the beginning-of-the-year balance about UAH300 million. However, at the expense of compulsory social insurance for unemployment benefits they finance non-insurance payments and employ about 16,000 officials, personnel of the Job Center[22].

      Moreover, this situation is already fixed in the law "On Employment", which comes into force on January 1, 2013. It removes the guarantees of payment of minimum unemployment benefits in the amount of the subsistence minimum, allowing the government to manually set the size of the aid.


      4. Ensuring decent working conditions

           The low income of the majority of Ukrainian citizens, especially wages, which remain the main source of livelihood, provoke poverty among the working population and exacerbate social tensions. In most countries, the main criteria for determining the level of minimum wages include the needs of workers and their families with regard to the level of wages prevailing, social welfare and revenue volumes and GDP growth rates, employment, balance of payments and others. Based on them, the compromise is reached between the social needs of the population and the economic opportunities of society.

      All European countries have long concluded that the minimum wage should also include costs for family upkeep, as reflected in the ILO conventions no. 131 "On the minimum wage" and European Social Charter (revised) ratified by Ukraine, Constitution and the Law of Ukraine "On Remuneration of Labor." However, Ukraine still goes on setting the minimum wage at illegally undervalued subsistence level, guided by residual expenditures from the State Budget.

      Today, there is quite a number of people who gets paid at a level even below the minimum wage. And more than half of all workers receive wages lower than UAH2500.


       Fig. 1. Distribution of employees by salary for September, 2012 (cumulative)[23]



     As a result, despite the fact that the state economy is developing in the direction of the market, one of its main indicators––the price of labor––is increasingly moving away from its real valuation.

      The analysis of current policies and practices of wage planning in Ukraine demonstrates the policy of limiting cash revenues and orientation of wages at subsistence level. At the state level, they regulate only minimum wage, which, unfortunately, is not an adequate social guarantee. The wages actually ceased to perform reproductive, stimulating and social functions; it provides a level of not more than 20% of the reproduction of labor. In addition, today the wage in income structure is critically low, that is about 40% instead of the maximum allowable 65% limit that fails to motivate highly productive and quality labor[24].

Fig. 2. Structure of personal income[25]

      Also it should be noted that the mechanism of indexation of personal income intended to increase their purchasing power in the face of rising prices for consumer goods and services introduced in 1991 is imperfect and does not reach such goal as maintaining adequate standard of living of the working population.

      According to the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine, the numerous changes of the mechanism of indexation of wages gradually restricted the right of workers to obtain additional income. Indistinctive determination of the baseline month, which starts indexing wages, affects the income of those, who, in particular, locked out in connection with the reorganization (liquidation) of the company, institution or organization, hired by a new institution by transfer or substitute employee etc[26].

      Despite the fact that wage indexation has been introduced to maintain the standard of living especially of the most vulnerable citizens, the income of this category is not covered by the existing mechanism. This applies, in particular, to public sector employees of 1-5 wage categories of the unified wage rate distribution, whose wage varies quarterly with the change of the minimum wage. Indexing in such cases does not apply.

      The problem of establishing efficient income indexing needs urgent legal settlement. Unfortunately, the draft amendments to the Procedure of cash income indexing prepared by the Ministry of Social Policy does not propose corrections in the current indexation of wages of employees of government-financed organizations[27].

      The problem of wages of employees of government-financed organizations remains unsolved. The practice of gross violation of the law «On Remuneration of Labor» stays the same: from January 2012 official rate of pay according to the 1st tariff level makes UAH773, and the minimum wage is UAH1073, the difference is UAH300. Although by law the official rate of pay according to the 1st tariff level should be greater than the minimum wage.

      In November 2012 the Trade Union of Education and Science Personnel addressed an appeal to the Government about the need to stipulate in the State Budget 2013 expenditures on education to the extent necessary to implement the unified schedule of charges for public sector employees on the basis of the basic official rate of pay according to the 1st tariff level not less than the minimum wage[28].

      Also, the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine notes that wages in the public sector is unduly low, its size in 2011 and the first quarter of this year was less than the average wage in the economy[29].

      In Ukraine the situation with wage arrears remains complicated. According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, in Ukraine, in July 2012, the arrears of wages increased by 2.5% and reached UAH986.04 million. The rise of accrued personnel compensation was recorded in 10 oblasts, in Kyiv and Sevastopol. Accordingly, the debt reduction was observed in 14 oblasts and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. As of July 1, 2012 the highest level of wage arrears (over UAH100 million.) was recorded in Donetsk Oblast––UAH179.419 mln and in Kharkiv Oblast––UAH100.035 million[30].

      In 2012 there were serious problems with arrears of wages of doctors and teachers. In particular, in the fall of 2012 the Trade Union of Education and Science Personnel appealed to the Prime Minister about the underfunding of the sector. The trade union stressed that the lack of financial support for the educational sector in 2012 threatens with the inability to pay wages to employees of educational sphere in the majority of territories of Ukraine in November-December this year and prevents the creation of conditions for the life of educational facilities.

      The appeal of the trade union reads that, according to the operational data of organizational units of the trade union, in most areas the need of additional education expenditures in local budgets is about UAH5.4 billion, including payroll of 2.4 billion. The need for additional funds for the higher education institutions under the Ministry of Education makes UAH711.3 million. Moreover, for the payment of wages they need additional UAH101.2 million, educational maintenance allowance––UAH109,1 million, for public utilities––UAH369.4 million[31].

      The Free Trade Union of Medical Workers of Ukraine, in its turn, demanded repayment of wage arrears to employees of medical sphere[32].

      In 2012, the miners also faced the problems of wage arrears. And among the major causes of indebtedness, particularly in the mining industry, is the lack of an effective management system at the coal-mining enterprises, absence of proper control of the activities of public enterprises by the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry. High loss ratio at coal mines, lack of working capital, practice of selling coal at prices lower than its actual cost and without pre-payment, as well as partial payments and late payments for realized coal have negative impact on timely payment of wages to miners[33].


      5. Securing of labor safety

           The state's guarantees of labor safety are wheels within wheels. The trouble is there is no complex program document on labor safety. The Derzhgirpromnahliad has been working out the draft national program for improving safety, health and working environment for 2012-2016 for over a year now. However, there is still no legally defined mechanism of penalties on legal entities and individuals for failure to comply with relevant laws, regulations and orders of Derzhgirpromnahliad. This condition significantly reduces the effectiveness of the supervisory activities of the state.

      There are other problems that affect the efficiency of state supervision over the observance of legislation in this area. Thus, during the verification of cost-effectiveness by the State Service of Mining Supervision and Industrial Safety of Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia oblasts by the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine it turned out that, despite the number of inspections by public supervision agencies of these areas, they essentially did not affect the number of accidents compared to other oblasts. They also noted that almost one third of the funds allocated to ensure labor safety were spent ineffectively[34].

      The labor safety at the Donetsk coal mines remains problematic. Thus, in 2011 at these enterprises more than two thousand people were injured, seventy-four were killed. The coal industry accounts for two thirds of all occupational injuries, including deaths[35].

      For 10 months in 2012 there exists a positive trend of reducing occupational injuries in coal mines; however, the numbers remain very high: about three thousand people injured (in the past year: 3,526), 104 people fatally (previous year: 149)[36].

      However, according to S.Ya.Ukrayinets, Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine, there remains a serious concern about the increase in fatal accidents in low-risk areas, primarily water supply and sewerage systems, socio-cultural sphere, light and textile industry, etc. He also stressed that today there is a need to tackle two major problems of state supervision: first–inspectors are denied free control of jobs, as required by the Convention of the International Labor Organization, and the second–– critical shortage of inspectors, the number of which is constantly reduced[37].

      In addition, there exists a sad statistics: the number of hidden accidents has reached 25%, which, in particular, is due to the fact that a person is employed with violations of the law, and in case of an accident they conduct improper investigation. It is also important that today the managers are trying not to associate with the production nearly 50 percent of accidents attributing them to domestic injuries outside the work activity[38].

      One example of improper investigation of occupational disease is the appeal of Serhiy Marchuk in January 2012 to the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine concerning improper investigation of occupational disease, which he had received while working at the company Mine "Stakhanov" of the SE "Krasnoarmeyskugol." Only after the intervention of trade unions he was able to get a statement that his illness was a work-related disease[39].


      6. State control of observance of labor rights

      According to the auditors of the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine, the control of adjustment of wages of public sector employees was insufficient and ineffective for the prevention and elimination of violations in this area, particularly because of insufficient staff of government labor inspectors (1.5 thousand enterprises per one state labor inspector), filling of only 60% of the manning table of Derzhpratsi, delays in reforming its structures and staff[40].

      The Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine notes that in Ukraine, after the introduction of restrictions in 2009 for labor inspectors of Derzhpratsi and Derzhgirpromnaglyad became a real violation of ILO Conventions no. 81 and 129 on labor inspection ratified by our country.

      Deputy Chairman of the FPU Ukrayinets S.Y. emphasized that the Law of Ukraine "On Government Oversight (control) of economic activity" as well as relevant resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers, which regulate scheduled inspections by state agencies and establish their frequency, hinder normal inspection and, in fact, does not allow the inspectors to perform their duties as defined by the ILO Convention.

      It should be noted that twice––in 2010 and in the summer of 2012––the ILO Committee of Experts considered the compatibility of national legislation with the provisions of ILO Conventions and acknowledged facts of direct violation of the norms of the Convention by Ukraine no. 81. The recent decision of the Committee of Experts is as follows: the Government of Ukraine is asked to report on measures taken to ensure the emendation of the Law of Ukraine no 877 "On the Principles of State Control of Economic Activities" in order to bring it into conformity with the provisions of ILO Conventions.


      7. Protecting labor rights of migrant workers

           Every year thousands of Ukrainians travel abroad to seek their fortunes. Most of them are on the move because of the inability to find a job in Ukraine and have decent wages and working conditions.

      According to the UN, in 2010, there were 215 million migrants worldwide, including 150 million of economically active population, i.e. migrant workers. There are many Ukrainians among them. The official statistics in our country does not show the actual level of migration. It is evidenced by the differences among Ukrainian and foreign data, where our countrymen find jobs. For example, in Russia in 2010 they counted 27.5 thousand Ukrainian migrant workers, while according to our statistics there are only 5.9 thousand. In Italy believe that they employ 30.4 thousand Ukrainian citizens, and we count only 0.2 thousand. Therefore, the ILO, analyzing labor migration, relies not on statistics, but on the results of the statistical survey conducted in 2008. The latter showed that four years ago nearly 1.5 million Ukrainians worked abroad, mostly in Russia (48.5%), Italy (13.4%), and Czech Republic (12.8%). Among them there were 484.8 thousand women and 991.3 thousand men. The lowest average age of Ukrainians, who found job was in Russia and the Czech Republic, the highest one in Italy and Spain[41].

      The experts are at variance concerning the number of migrant workers from Ukraine: 7 million and 8 million. So, there is no accurate information on this. The statistical straggling shows that Ukrainian migrants have both legal and illegal status abroad. For the ILO, both categories are equal and counted. However, the regulated status usually guarantees migrants social protection. According to statistics, 35.1% of migrant workers from Ukraine had permission to stay and work, 39.9% had a temporary registration, and 25.6% were without official status.

      The migrant workers have the same rights and freedoms as other workers. Therefore all ILO conventions cover them. However, understanding the special needs of these migrants two specific Conventions––no. 97 “On migrant workers” and no. 143 “On abuse of migration and provision of equal opportunities and equal treatment for migrant workers”––were developed. The first document was adopted in 1949, and even the ILO Committee of Experts acknowledged that some of its provisions became obsolete. The Convention no. 97 establishes standards on procedures for hiring and working conditions. In addition, it guarantees the right to membership in trade union organizations and the right to collective agreements.

      The main difference of Convention no. 97 from no. 143 is in the fact that it applies only to migrant workers with regulated status. It also does not apply to seamen, artists, and frontier workers. The Recommendation 86 to the Convention contains the definition of the term "migrant worker" as a person, who migrates from one country to another for employment otherwise than on his own account and includes any person who is determined according to the law as a migrant worker. The Convention no. 143 applies to migrant workers both with regulated status and without it. It guarantees equality in employment, provision of social protection and access to social services for migrants and local workers.

      In addition, the Convention no. 143 covers also the family members of foreign workers. There is also another important document in this area: “The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families” (UN, 1990). It distinguished 8 categories of migrant workers: frontier worker, seasonal seaman employed on offshore installation, migrant worker on the move, project worker, freelancers and self-employed.

      Unfortunately, all these international regulations were not ratified by Ukraine, and therefore they have no direct implementation now. However, they contain practical international standards. According to the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine, we have no national legislation on the internal and external labor migration. The main law that regulates internal migration is "On freedom of movement and choice of residence in Ukraine", which provides the legal basis for work in different regions of Ukraine. According to the presidential decree, last year they developed a concept of state migration policy, but it was nothing but plans for the future. The Ministry of Social Policy is currently working on a draft law on foreign labor migration. Executive Assistant to the International Organization for Migration in Ukraine Anastasia Vynnychenko said that on October 23, 2012 the first meeting of the working group on the draft law took place[42].

      Many comments followed, particularly about the fact that it was only declarative and actually applied only to regulated areas of migration, which was already sufficiently regulated. The debate among experts zeroed in on the interests of all categories of migrant workers to be accounted for. There were comments on the terminology of the draft and international standards. This document has to be discussed and finalized[43].

      The state still needs a work to do and sign bilateral agreements with countries, where Ukrainian migrants abide, because there is a large number of countries, where Ukrainian migrants work without any agreement covering them.

      8. Ensuring the rights of trade unions

      According to the analytical report of the National Institute for Strategic Studies "Regarding the state of social and labor relations in Ukraine and the main directions of reforming them", the relationships between employees and employers are characterized by the dominance of the latter. The main reasons are as follows: low volume of jobs in the labor market, command-authoritarian behavior of modern Ukrainian business and weakness of domestic trade union movement.

      In Ukraine, unlike Europe, the tradition of trade unionism was abolished. Everybody’s accustomed to formal membership, and the so-called independent unions failed to become a worthy alternative to the official ones. There is also such hold-over of sovietism as politicization of trade unions.

      At large enterprises and public institutions thee traditional (post-Soviet) unions run the roost going on with their Soviet-era functions as "departments of social protection" under administration and intermediaries between employers and employees. According to experts, such limited field of activity cannot effectively protect the interests of working people. At the same time, there are only a few alternative, independent trade unions, which tend to defend the interests of employees. In addition, their participation in social dialogue is complicated by rigid criteria of representativeness established by Articles 5–7 of the Law of Ukraine "On the social dialogue."[44]

      Furthermore, often such free trade unions are working in very difficult conditions. Thus, Chairman of the Free Trade Union of Health Professionals of Ukraine (VTUHPU) Oleg Panasenko says that the newly created centers of trade unions are under pressure. We set up a trade union in the Kyiv hospital, the premises of which somebody wanted to get,” said Oleg Panasenko. We managed to defend the building: our claims were redressed, and the session of Kyivrada adopted a proper decision. Despite this success, the personnel of the clinic were forced to return to the old trade union[45].

      The fact that the newly formed unions were under pressure was confirmed by Head of Zaporizhzhya Regional Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine Serhiy Chyzhov. Particularly acute for the branches is the problem of dismissals of union activists.

      The trade unions at the enterprises controlled by TNCs in Ukraine encounter obstacles. Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine Ye. M. Drapyaty says that the management of TNC enterprises despises the legislation of Ukraine and ILO Conventions. According to the member organizations of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine, the enterprises of TNCs implement the system of fines, both openly and surreptitiously intimidate workers and frighten them into obedience, discriminate members of trade union[46].

      At an international conference “Activities of TNCs in Ukraine and the strategy of trade unions” the speakers stressed that the trade unions faced pressure from administration of TNC-controlled enterprises during creation of trade unions and collective bargaining. There is discrimination on the basis of trade union membership, trade union activists work under pressure and later they are sacked on flimsy reasons.

      The examples of TNCs violating the trade union rights include the international chain s of hypermarkets “Ashan”, “METRO Cash & Carry” and others[47].

      Violations of trade union rights at public enterprises are laid in wait at every turn. There is an example of pressure on the free trade union of railroad workers, namely its Kharkiv branch, exerted by the administration of the state enterprise "Ukrzaliznytsia". President of the Free Trade Union of Kharkiv Car Bay no. 1 "Southern Railroad" O. Ambrosimov says that they meet with difficulties using the premises of the trade union, pressure is put on "Ukrzaliznytsia" employees, who are members of this trade union, their labor rights are violated. Legal proceedings are initiated against the President of this branch of trade unions for allegedly submitting false information regarding the activities of Ukrzaliznytsia[48] [49] [50].

      To improve the situation in this area the measures should be taken to strengthen the legal safeguards of the trade unions: to strengthen the legislative provisions aimed at protecting union leaders, to increase the employers' responsibility for violations of trade union rights, to ensure control over the implementation of the ILO Convention no. 135. Maybe, it is worth amending the Law of Ukraine "On Trade Unions, Their Rights and Guarantees" with a norm establishing the right of a joint representative body of trade unions to represent trade unions and associations in the meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, collective bodies of ministries and other executive authorities, and local self-government bodies.


      9. Recommendations

     1) Increase the sum of unemployment benefits to subsistence level, and make the necessary changes to the legislation specifying the safeguards to obtain this assistance at this level;

2) Reduce the high unemployment especially among the most vulnerable population, primarily young people, people approaching retirement age, persons with disabilities;

3) Increase the share of wages in GDP and production costs;

4) Harmonize the minimum wage with the requirements of the European Social Charter and implement effective indexation of income;

5) Ensure the effective implementation and differentiation of wages in the public sector through the application of a single tariff, eliminate the practice of setting salary (rate of remuneration) of the employee and the tariff level at a rate lower than specified by the law on salaries;

6) Take measures to improve wages in bodies of state authority to improve the social protection of ordinary workers, eliminate the system of hidden wages fixed by the appointment of various awards and bonuses, which are more dependent on loyalty to leadership than on productivity;

7) Reduce the arrears of wages to employees of government-financed organizations, and take measures to cut wage arrears in companies and organizations of all forms of ownership;

8) Improve the system of job safety in order to reduce occupational injuries and diseases, including emendation of the legislation in this area, as well as the implementation of prevention programs;

9) Improve enforcement of standards and requirements of job safety; ensure prompt and effective investigation of cases of traumatism;

10) Improve state control over observance of labor rights, introduction of effective mechanisms to respond to these violations;

11) Conclude bilateral agreements in the field of employment and social protection of migrant workers with the countries, in which a significant number of our jobseekers abide and with which there are still no such agreements concluded;

12) Ratify the relevant international instruments enhancing the protection of migrant workers in the area of employment and social protection;

13) Ensure strict observance of the rights of trade unions to promote the establishment of a strong independent trade union movement.


[1] Prepared by M.Shcherbatiuk, UHHRU.

[2] Ukrainian named unemployment and corruption the biggest problems of the country

[3] A quarter of employable Ukrainians, or nearly 40% of all employed people, are working without official clearance, that is in shadow.

[4] A quarter of employable Ukrainians, or nearly 40% of all employed people, are working without official clearance, that is in shadow.

[5] Explosive moment

[6] Expert: the law on employment will not improve the situation on the labor market

[7] A quarter of employable Ukrainians, or nearly 40% of all employed people, are working without official clearance, that is in shadow.

[8] Employers offering low-wage jobs to to the Job Center, Kyiv Oblast

[9] Explosive moment

[10] Former head of the Ministry of Economy Bohdan Danylyshyn notes that the differentiation of the total per capita income between different regions is more than 3 times.

[11] Kostrytsia: Law on employment will reduce unemployment

[12] Yakibchuk: 6 billion each year is spent, and jobs are not created, the money disappear somewhere -43-46/303--6-.html

[13] Trade unions do not believe the Tigipko's bill  on youth employment

[14] Trade unions accused the government of imitation of solution of the problem of unemployment

[15] Trade unions accused the government of imitation of solution of the problem of unemployment

[16] Trade unions do not believe the Tigipko's bill  on youth employment

[17] MPs approved a law against unemployment

[18] Expert: the Law on employment will not improve the situation on the labor market

[19] On the verge of upheaval ~ / 2/0/all/2012/11/13/291157

[20] Entrepreneurs in Ukraine resort to massive layoffs

[21] Beyond poverty

[22] Beyond poverty

[23] Data of the State Statistics Committee

[24] The level of wages in Ukraine must be fair

[25] Data of the State Statistics Committee

[26] Does income indexation make employee of a government-financed organization richer?

[27] Does income indexation make employee of a government-financed organization richer?

[28] Appeal of the Trade Union of Education and Science Personnel

[29] Does income indexation make employee of a government-financed organization richer?

[30] Wage arrears in Ukraine are close to a billion

[31] Appeal of the Trade Union of Education and Science Personnel

[32] Health professionals demand to cancel medical reform

[33] Miners face wage arrears

[34] The number of inspections increases, but the number of injuries is not reduced

[35] "Uninhabited" coal mine crackdown

[36] Coal industry: decrease in injuries and accidents

[37] Limited control provokes injuries

[38] Annually Ukraine loses UAH30 billion due to occupational accidents

[39] Safe work: new procedure, the same priorities

[40] Does indexation of income make employees of a government-financed organizations richer?

[41] Ukrainian migrant workers need protection of the unions

[42] Ukrainian migrant workers need protection of trade unions

[43] Ukrainian migrant workers need protection of trade unions

[44] Strengthening the legal guarantee of the trade unions

[45] Meeting of the Heads of Trade Unions: the challenges and ways to meet them

[46]  Putting the TNCs' activities under control of trade unions

[47] Multinational companies: slavery for hire?

[48] How the management of Kharkiv car bay no. 1 violates law

[49] Press Conference "Lawsuits as a tool to pressure the media and and free trade unions"

[50] Abrosimov: Railroaders are not allowed to come to Kyiv to protest and are threatened with dismissal




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