About the ILO in Ukraine

Ukraine has been an ILO member state since 1954 and was declared independent in 1991. The ILO Office for Central and Eastern Europe started working with Ukraine from 1996, marking a new period of enhanced collaboration between the ILO and Ukraine. The ILO Governing Body decision to open an ILO Country Office in Kyiv in 2024 represents a new milestone in ILO support to Ukraine.

To date, Ukraine has ratified 72 ILO Conventions, of which 61 are in force, including nine fundamental and four priority Conventions. The ratification by Ukraine of the ILO Chemicals Convention, 1990 (No. 170) in 2023 marked a strong adherence to international labour standards by the Ukrainian tripartite constituents and their commitment to modernize the legal framework and institutional setup despite the hardships of the ongoing war.

Despite a partial and fragile labour market recovery, Ukraine is still suffering from the consequences of the war. The Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine continues to cause major losses to life, incomes, employment and livelihoods.

After a sharp GDP decline of 29 percent in the first year of the war and the loss of over 2 million jobs (ILO, 2024), the Ukrainian economy demonstrated first optimistic signs of recovery in 2023 with an annual growth rate of 4.8 per cent (World Bank, 2024). Further economic recovery may however be constrained by the lack of workforce, which has dropped by 10.4 per cent since the beginning of the invasion (ILO, 2024). The country will thus need 8,6 million additional workers in the coming years to achieve its economic growth targets (ILO, 2023).

While the number of refugees returning to Ukraine has slightly increased, almost 6 million people remain spread across Europe. 55 per cent of them were working before the war (ILO, 2024). In addition, almost 4 million people have been displaced within Ukraine.

The employment situation in Ukraine remains alarming. The State Employment Service estimates that 2.8 millions people are still unemployed, almost half of whom belonging to vulnerable groups (ILO, 2024). Meanwhile, Ukraine’s enterprises have been ravaged by the war, with an estimated US$ 125 billion worth of infrastructure damage alone (ILO, 2024).

Although organized labour has also been dramatically affected by the war, recent advances are encouraging. Social dialogue is deeply rooted in Ukraine with a well-developed legal framework providing for government consultations with representative organisations of the social partners on all matters related to the world of work. The National Tripartite Social and Economic Council resumed its work in 2021 after over three years of pause. However, the position of Council Secretary has been vacant since January 2023 and martial law also affects its functioning. Reconstruction and EU accession can only be achieved if employers’ organizations and trade unions are consulted on policy decisions that affect them. As currently social dialogue institutions are not functioning properly, Ukraine will have some significant work to do to make sure that its legal framework and commitment to social dialogue will ensure it is fit for purpose.

ILO interventions in Ukraine

As the full-scale war against Ukraine started in 2022, the ILO reprogrammed its interventions to contribute to the UN-wide humanitarian aid, acting through the networks of the social partners.

Meanwhile, the ILO’s support shifted from emergency response towards medium-term interventions focusing on assistance to increase resilience, contribute to the economic recovery and consolidate the foundations for sustainable development.

The ILO developed – in consultations with tripartite constituents – a Transitional Cooperation Strategy for 2024-2025, based on a shared understanding that modern labour law built upon international labour standards, well-functioning labour market institutions and effective social dialogue are the pillars of recovery and development. The strategy is based on investing in people, creating quality employment and sustainable enterprises, and improving labour market governance The current portfolio includes quality employment creation and support to sustainable enterprises, strengthening of social dialogue, promotion of fundamental principles and rights at work and local employment partnerships.

Text last updated March 2024