Ukraine recovery

Ukrainian trade unions reaffirm their commitment to actively contribute to Ukraine’s rebuilding

During a meeting in Kyiv, trade unions and international partners discussed ways to protect workers' rights, during and after the war, and to contribute to the rebuilding of Ukraine

News | 28 July 2023
© Atomprofspilka (Nuclear Energy and Industry Workers' Union of Ukraine)
BUDAPEST (ILO News) – Ukrainian trade unions have reaffirmed their commitment to being actively involved in Ukraine’s rebuilding efforts. The move came during a meeting with international partners held to discuss challenges and opportunities related to protecting workers’ rights during and after the war.

The workshop was the largest of its kind since the war began in February 2022. It was held in Kyiv on 12-13 July, and organised with the support of the ILO and the German foundation, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). Participants included the heads of the two main Ukrainian trade union federations, 50 trade union leaders from 13 affiliates of the Global Union Federation IndustriALL, representatives from the three main employers’ associations, the ILO, and heads of other international organizations.

Ukrainian trade unions are facing immense challenges amid the war. The conflict has inflicted irreversible damage on Ukraine's infrastructure, hindering the country's prospects for inclusive growth and decent work. The destruction of numerous enterprises and jobs has also led to a significant decline in union memberships and dues.

“Ukraine should become a modern European economy, with skilled and productive workers placed in well-paid, secure jobs,” said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union. “The country needs sustainable mining and agriculture sectors, and to become more socially oriented. The millions of refugees, internally displaced persons and demobilized soldiers must be reintegrated into the economy and the labour market. Parents taking up jobs need to rely on quality care services. Older workers with insecure pensions must avoid retiring in poverty.”

Since the war broke out Ukrainian trade unions have assisted millions of Ukrainians by providing shelter, food packages, and information about the risks of human trafficking and forced labour. During the meeting, union representatives reaffirmed their intention to continue to denounce violations of workers’ rights in the areas temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation, including in the nuclear, electricity, rail, education and mining sectors.

The war has undermined the trade unions’ ambitious plans for their members and for the future of the trade union movement in Ukraine. Work has shifted to helping soldiers, refugees and members that have lost their jobs as well as to ensuring that fundamental workers’ rights and basic living and working conditions are upheld."

Grygorii Osovyi, President of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine
Both workers and employers expressed concerns about Ukraine's ongoing labour law reform, citing a lack of social dialogue and potential reduction in workers’ protections. They urged the government to engage in regular consultations with social partners to address the country's significant challenges. Trade unions also emphasized that they do not feel sufficiently included in the country's rebuilding process.

The ILO Governing Body has called on the Russian Federation to ‘immediately and unconditionally cease its aggression’, and on the ILO to monitor violations of workers’ rights in areas temporarily and unlawfully controlled by the Russian Federation, including in the nuclear, maritime, education and railway sectors. On June 1, the ILO published a brief: Violations of fundamental principles and rights at work at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and in Enerhodar city in Ukraine, temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation.

The ILO plans to open a new Country Office for Ukraine, as part of efforts to increase support for its constituents in Ukraine.