The International Labour Organization defines timely provision of a decent wage as one of the fundamental rights at work. Sharing the gains through timely payment of fair salaries is also seen as a preconditions of social justice and lasting peace.
Since Ukraine became an independent state in 1991, wage arrears have always been a problem, causing social unrest and negatively influencing labour relations. According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, the accumulated wage arrears amounted to 70.6 Mio USD at the beginning of 2015. This amount has further increased to 95 Mio USD in 2018. The number of workers concerned who have not received their wages on time was 265,800, equivalent to 3.3% of the total workforce as of 2015. The gender pay gap in Ukraine was at around 21% in 2018, which is higher than in most EU countries (EU average: 16%). Concerning the minimum wage level, the principles of social dialogue are not effectively incorporated into the mechanism of defining it.
In April 2015, the trade unions on one side and government and employers on the other started discussions to address the issues, leading, however, to hardly any progress. In April 2018, the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine filed a complaint to the ILO on the non-application of ILO Convention 95 – the International Labour Standard on the protection of wages also ratified by Ukraine.
Seeking an efficient response and proper expert solutions, the national constituents submitted a request to the ILO to provide technical assistance to improve the wage policies. The new project will work on improving the legal framework for wage policies and on reviving the social dialogue between partners involved.
More specifically, the project contributes to achieving the following results:
- tripartite agreement to address the issues of wage arrears,
- minimum wage fixing mechanism complying with ILO Convention 131. -- the International Labour Standard on how to define minimum wages, and
- legislative changes ensuring equal remuneration of men and women.
During the launching event for the project on 12 March 2019 Oleksandra Churkina, Deputy Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, stressed the need to build a brighter future of work for ourselves and the generations to come, a future with fair remuneration and without wage arrears and inequality in remuneration of men and women.