Britain sponsors worsening labor rights of Ukrainians – OpenDemocracy


The UK is sponsoring changes to the labor legislation in Ukraine, which, according to experts, can significantly reduce the labor rights of Ukrainians, and also contradicts the labor protection provisions of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.

This is reported by the website OpenDemocracy.

Documents obtained by OpenDemocracy indicate that the UK Foreign Office is advising the Ukrainian Ministry of Economy on the promotion of new labor legislation. And since September 2020, Britain has been funding a project to support the Ukrainian ministry in its transformation.

The Ukrainian ministry, according to the documents, is encouraged to “note” that the liberalization of labor legislation will bring “positive results” for Ukrainian workers. It is recommended to make your messages “simpler and more emotional” in this regard.

The European Federation of Public Service Trade Unions said the UK is “funding propaganda” to “create a climate” hostile to Ukrainian trade unions.

“In January 2020, the Ukrainian government made a sharp turn towards liberalizing labor laws and depriving trade unions of their property and rights after protests began in society,” writes OpenDemocracy.

We are talking about bills No. 5388 and No. 5371, which are aimed at partial liberalization of labor legislation. The government claims that the adoption of these documents will stimulate employers to hire workers officially, attract foreign investors and create more flexible conditions for doing business.

To this end, it is proposed to simplify the procedures for hiring and firing, introduce individual labor contracts as the basis of labor relations instead of collective agreements and the current Labor Code, and give employers more authority to change working conditions.

But critics, including trade unions in Ukraine and the UN agency’s International Labor Organization, are concerned that if passed, the laws could severely curtail workers’ rights and discourage businesses from formally employing their workers.

According to the head of the Trade Union of Builders of Ukraine and Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine Vasily Andreev, if bill 5388, which passed the first reading in the parliament in September, was “a kind of smooth attempt to narrow the powers of trade unions,” then bill 5371 could lead to the fact that “70-80 % of employees will be completely outside the Ukrainian labor legislation – including the trade union, working hours, wage rates, as well as healthy and safe working conditions. ”

Georgy Sandul, a lawyer at the Ukrainian public organization for the protection of workers’ rights, Labor Initiatives, said that these bills “undermine the foundations of labor guarantees existing in Ukraine.”

According to bills 5371 and 5388, labor relations will increasingly be determined by individual contracts, and employers and workers will negotiate wages and working conditions as equal parties.

The role of trade unions in regulating the relationship between management and workers will be effectively diminished, including the removal of the provision that management must obtain union approval in order to fire an employee.

The bills also introduce provisions similar to “hourly” contracts, that is, a shift from a fixed monthly wage for a fixed time to payment for work on demand.

The joint project of the European Union and the International Labor Organization “Towards safe, healthy and declared work in Ukraine” criticized the draft laws and offered their recommendations.

For example, regarding bill 5371, the EU-ILO draft states that its provisions on a “parallel and less protective regime” for workers in small and medium-sized enterprises exclude a significant part of the Ukrainian labor force from the Labor Code.

With the introduction of “voluntary employment” and the opportunity for employers to unilaterally amend the “essential terms” of individual employment contracts, project 5371 also violates international labor standards and contradicts general principles of European law and practice.

According to the EU-ILO project, some of the norms of the draft laws contradict the EU directives on labor law, the labor protection provisions of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, as well as the ILO conventions.

OpenDemocracy is a well-known British website about international politics and culture, which publishes news and opinions of scientists, journalists and politicians on current world events and problems.

According to Wikipedia, the site is sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, the George Soros Foundation and other organizations and individuals.

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