ILO partners and beneficiaries

Voices of change in Ukraine: ILO community celebrates Centenary

As the oldest specialized UN agency, the International Labour Organization celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Exactly one hundred years ago, on 11 April 1919, the plenary session of the Paris Peace Conference accepted the draft ILO Constitution which became part of the Treaty of Versailles signed on 28 June 1919 to end World War I. This remarkable date was celebrated by a day-long series of 24 Global Live Tour events spanning four continents to mark the ILO Centenary.

News | 06 May 2019
The  ILO Office for Central and Eastern Europe showcased its work in Ukraine and put beneficiaries, partners and constituents in the limelight. On 11 April, 2019 the diplomatic corps, UN organizations, constituents, students and ILO staff came together in Kyiv for a talk show to hear testimonies of how the organization is advancing the labour market in the country and to celebrate. This very special day was appropriately closed by a spectacular display of lights and festive Centenary messages illuminating the Gulliver tower in central Kyiv.

 © Andriy Krepkih

The Central and Eastern European ILO office provides advisory services to 18 member countries to develop policies and programmes that promote more and better jobs.  The biggest development cooperation portfolio of the office is the Ukrainian, with a budget of USD 10+ Mio. Backed up by a local team of 14 staff, ILO works to improve the number and quality of jobs and create safe, secure and inclusive working conditions for all. Currently the ILO focuses on the labour inspection and State Employment Services reform, EU approximation in the areas of Occupational Health and Safety standards, entrepreneurship development, HIV/AIDS awareness and maternity protection at the workplaces, and social dialogue. To capture this rich and diverse portfolio within the one-hour talk show, the discussion highlighted primarily ILO work on employment and working conditions,  moderated by Andriy Kulikov, an acclaimed Ukrainian TV anchor.

The employment panel reflected on how the labour market has changed since the reforms came into effect in 2014 and on the ILO contribution to a better functioning labour market. This included a drastic review of the legal framework for the functioning of the State Employment Service (SES) relying on ILO Standards as benchmarks during the revision. The recently introduced career counsellors of the State Employment Service were fully equipped by the ILO to deliver tailored-made services to job searchers based on their needs and competencies. „We offer trainings to the unemployed to learn new skills or upgrade existing ones, or launch new businesses”--Maryana Shymanska, Career Counsellor at SES explained during the Live event.

Now the ILO is helping the SES to institutionalize and roll out Start and Improve Your Business, the world’s largest training programme on entrepreneurship that successfully works in more than 100 countries, including Ukraine.  Svitlana Kotenko, managing partner of FoodEx company and Vitalii Rybachenko, business owner of „Alterego” barbershop both participated in the „Start and Improve Your Business” training.  Svitlana developed her own business plan at the course, benefitted from a grant and connected with a complete expert network to support her. She managed to scale up her business, starting with 3 staff, currently employing 35 people with franchizes in 6 cities. Vitalii added a beauty parlour to his barber shop business after the training. He employs young mothers, including an internally displaced person, all enjoying the benefits of flexible working hours. His venture went from 3 to 9 employees following the ILO training.

The second panel revolved around working conditions. The ILO aims to build a culture of safety and create better quality jobs in the country where 30% of employees work in non-safe conditions, 1 out of 4 workers holds an informal job lacking proper protection and security, and almost 1% of the adult population is infected by HIV.

Change starts with awareness. Elina Karavan works for the Marine Transport Wrokers Trade Union of Ukraine based in Odessa. Her Union works closely with ILO in an awareness-raising campaign among seafarers to change the attitude towards their own health and well-being in the context of HIV/AIDS.  Vadim Mundriyevski, captain of a sea vessel promotes HIV/AIDS awareness among his crew, and he himself took the test at the ILO training to ascertain his health status.

Roman Chernega, Head of the State Labour Service, stressed that by learning from ILO best pratices, a whole new culture of prevention needs to be built and accepted both by workers and employers. New new approaches are being piloted in the hazardous sectors such as coal mining and forestry. „The ILO training and expert advice helped us reduce the number of accidents”--said Olexander Matusevich, Director of a forestry state enterprise „Vyhoda”. 

Dmytro Matvichuk is editor-in-chief of the magazine ”Occupational Safety and Health”. He believes preventive culture should be developed from an early age. For more than a decade now, every year, his magazine announces a visual arts competition for children which has grown and became nationwide. This year, some 11,000 children sent their drawings to the jury. The words of the winners (Kiril Arkhipov, Iryna Moshenets, Roland Struk and Danyla Rodionov) showed how this initiative urges children to think about the importance of work safety and health hazards associated with work. „This contest is an investment into safer workplaces in the future”--believes Dmytro Matviichuk.

The colourful testimonies of Ukrainian partners and beneficiaries delivered at the Global Live Tour gave a proper overview of the values, priorities and service offer of the ILO. They illustrated what it takes to work in a large transition economy in Eastern Europe and how solid partnerships help to move the Decent Work Agenda forward. Happy Centenary, ILO! 

Watch the live event from Kyiv
(60 min)