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Zelenskyy Regime Is Abolishing Unions for Most Workers, with Help from British Foreign Office

Aug. 29, 2022 (EIRNS)—Trade unions are largely being abolished in that “democracy” for whose war NATO countries are expending their civilian populations’ blood and treasure. A draft law which has passed Ukraine’s unicameral parliament will remove union membership and collective bargaining rights for some 70% of all Ukrainian workers, and seize union property. Thus another step is taken which echoes those of the Nazis after March 1933.

The British left publication Morning Star, “openDemocracy,” Progressive International, and others reported on Aug. 23 that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had ratified Draft Law 5371 after the government majority passed it in the Verkhovna Rada. The law, “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts To Simplify the Regulation of Labor Relations in Small and Medium Enterprises and Reduce Administrative Burdens on Business,” has been exposed and protested by the International and European Trades Union Congresses (ITUC and ETUC), and the International Labor Organization (ILO), as well as the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine. The ITUC and ETUC wrote to Zelenskyy, unsuccessfully, calling on him not to sign it.

To protest the Draft Law 5371 by the ILO:

It bans collective bargaining for employees of companies of 250 workers or less, authorizing companies to make individual contracts with each worker, on the “zero hours” basis which allows companies to vary workers’ hours at random according to management needs;

A companion law, Draft Law 5054, provides that “union property,” which could be offices, buildings, newspapers, websites and computers, etc., be seized by the government. This law refers broadly to property which had been public property in the Soviet period, but a Rada committee chair, Dmytro Natalukha, explicitly said it should be used to seize union property;

It violates Ukraine’s Constitution by subjecting labor rights the Constitution protects, to individual negotiations which can be dominated totally by company managements; it allows companies unilaterally to change terms of employment contracts or terminate them without giving a reason;

It gives employers immunity from inspections of working conditions, even those covered by the individual labor contracts.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow called it “grotesque” for Ukraine to attack workers struggling to keep its economy going under war conditions. Burrow said the seizure of union property was intended to prevent effective protest of these laws, and to pass that property to oligarchs: “Ukrainian politics ... as usual, only now under martial law,” writes Morning Star.

In November 2021 openDemocracy’s Lead Editor Thomas Rowley had a major exposé of British Foreign Office involvement in “liberalizing” Ukraine’s labor laws, “UK Sponsors Deregulation of Labour Rights in Ukraine,” with the kicker: “Experts warn the proposed labour reforms, which the British Foreign Office has consulted on, could reduce Ukrainians’ rights at work.”  More recently, Rowley updated his exposure for Progressive International.

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