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On 25 February, UNI Global Union is joining trade unions around the world in calling on the government of Ukraine to withdraw draft labour laws that threaten to strip workers of their legal rights and weaken the power of trade unions to protect them.

The amendments have been drafted without consultation with trade unions and violate international labour standards and, in some cases, the Ukrainian Constitution.

If enacted, the Draft Law on Labour (No. 2708) and other proposed amendments to laws on labour and trade unions, would:

  • Give employers the right to fire workers unilaterally or change the terms of their employment contracts
  • Make it harder to form a trade union and organize workers
  • Limit trade unions’ right to information necessary for collective bargaining
  • Allow short-term contracts for work for up to five years
  • Cut overtime pay by 80 per cent and make overtime the norm
  • Transfer trade union property acquired before 1991 to the government
  • Reduce protections for women with young children

Trade unions in Ukraine have taken to the streets to protest against the draft labour law, which was submitted to parliament late last year. In retaliation, Ukrainian state officials have started attacking trade unions and waging defamation campaigns against their leaders.

Together with the International Trade Union Confederation and other global unions, UNI condemns the attacks on trade unions and urges the government of Ukraine to:

  • Withdraw the draft law on labour, and work on a new draft Labour Code in full consultation with trade unions and employers, in participation with the International Labour Organization.
  • Stop any revision of legislation regulating trade union activities, rights and guarantees; ensure respect for freedom of association; and stop defamation, intimidation and violence against democratically elected union leaders
  • Relaunch national level tripartite social dialogue on labour reforms
  • Resume social dialogue where the state is party to collective agreements

UNI General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, says:

“These draft labour laws threaten to worsen the lives of millions of Ukrainian workers and curb the power of trade unions to defend them. We join the global union movement in calling for the government of Ukraine to withdraw the proposals and work with trade unions and employers for a new Labour Code that meets core International Labour Conventions ratified by Ukraine.”

Photo: Trade unions in Ukraine take to the streets to protest draft labour reforms. Credit: IndustriALL Global Union