5 – No guarantee of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


The ITUC affiliates in the Ukraine are the All-Ukrainian Union of Workers’ Solidarity (VOST), the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) and the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FPU).

Ukrainians took to the streets after former president Viktor Yanukovych decided not to sign an association agreement with the European Union in November 2013. Corruption and lack of accountability and weak government institutions were also regarded as underlying causes for the public outcry.
Police responded with excessive violence against the protesters, in particular on Independence Square in Kyiv, where over 100 people were killed between January and February 2014. Yanukovych stepped down and a pro-European interim government was formed on 27 February 2014.
In March 2014, the conflict escalated when paramilitary, widely believed to be from Russia, took control of Crimea and organised a referendum which was not recognised by the UN General Assembly.
The population of Donetsk and Luhansk was prevented by armed groups from exercising their right to vote during the presidential elections of 25 May 2014. The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine found that the rule of law was replaced by the rule of violence in Donetsk and Luhansk. The regional administration ceased to function effectively along with the police and judiciary. Banks were robbed, coal mines were attacked, with many forced to close. Railways were blown up and salaries, pensions and other social welfare payments were stopped in places under the control of armed groups. Furthermore, the armed groups continued to carry out abductions, physical and psychological torture, ill-treatment and other serious human rights violations. People were abducted for ransom, for forced labour and to be exchanged for fighters held by the Ukrainian authorities.
According to a 2014 report from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law were committed.
It is impossible for workers to enjoy their rights in a country where governmental institutions have fundamentally failed to hold those who are responsible for systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law accountable. Respect for the rule of law is essential when it comes to the protection of the rights of workers.

In practice

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Unions banned by pro-Russian separatists20-01-2015

On 20 January 2015 the Minister of Justice of the self-proclaimed Luhansk Peoples Republic issued an order banning the registration of independent trade unions. The first union to feel the effect of the ban was the Independent Miners Union, which applied on 16 January to register at the Barakov Coal Mine, but was denied registration under the terms of the new order.

The territory under the control of the Russian para-military forces of the Donetsk Peoples Republic and the Luhansk Peoples Republic has an appalling trade union rights record. Both the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions have recorded extensive human rights violations against their unions. Miners’ wages and holidays have been cut, where wages are actually being paid. While existing trade unions are being banned, a number of yellow unions have been set up.

Miners’ union leader murdered14-01-2015

Ivan Reznichenko, an activist in the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine (NPGU), was found dead on 14 January 2015. Ivan was the head of the primary trade union at state enterprise “Artemsil” and a member of the Solidar Town Council (Donetsk oblast) from Batkivshina. Ivan disappeared 21 June 2014. His body was found in by a friend and fellow town councillor in a salt pit. He had been shot twice in the head and had his throat slashed. He is thought to have been killed by separatists.

Independent union leader victimised31-08-2014

In August the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) reported that a representative of one of its new branch unions was being victimised. The Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine (VPZU) was created after workers at the municipal authority-owned company Electrotrans in Khmelnitsky (central-west Ukraine) faced a three-month delay in the payment of their salaries. Management responded to the creation of the union by trying to destroy it and victimising its representative Anastasia Podpruzhnikova. They threatened to sack her, and made her drive old, unsafe trolley buses during her shifts. The director of the company was also a member of the city council and used his position to force a doctor to destroy Podpruzhnikova’s sickness record and registered absences. The company imposed an illegal penalty on her for being a member of the trade union committee, and local traffic police stopped Anastasia for no reason. An officer advised her “to resign from this work because you are going to have big problems”.

Violence and intimidation against trade unions30-06-2014

Ukrainian trade unions reported in June 2014 that they faced constant attacks against their leadership and members by nationalist radicals. A meeting of the Presidium of the FPU national trade union centre trade union centre A central organisation at the national, regional or district level consisting of affiliated trade unions. Often denotes a national federation or confederation. was interrupted by a crowd seeking to intervene in the meeting, while in the Verhovna Rada, the Ukranian Parliament, a resolution was tabled seeking an investigation into the union’s activities and especially the use of the properties of the union. For many years there have been attempts to confiscate buildings, holiday and health resorts to make the work of the unions more difficult and to seize on prime real estate. The resolution in the Rada accused the unions of having relations with the past government, now considered to have been criminal. The unions underlined that they have relations with governments and employers in order to defend workers’ rights.

The most worrying developments, however, have been in Eastern Ukraine with continued interventions by armed groups in the internal affairs of the unions. This included, notably, attempts to bring the Federation of Trade Unions of Lugansk Oblast (FPLO) under the control of the self-proclaimed leaders of the “Lugansk People’s Republic”. FPLO officials were told, at gunpoint, to convene a meeting of the Federation to disaffiliate from the national trade union centre trade union centre A central organisation at the national, regional or district level consisting of affiliated trade unions. Often denotes a national federation or confederation. FPU and were threatened with reprisals if they took part in FPU meetings. The KVPU national centre also reported violence and intimidation against its members and officials in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Research center dissolved without consultation09-02-2015

The Board of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine decided to dissolve the Center of World Economy and International Relations of the National Academy of Ukraine without holding any consultations with the primary trade union of the Center, which belongs to the Independent Trade Union of Educators and Scientists of Ukraine, despite several requests. Since 13 October 2014, staff members and union leader Mykola Zymenko are barred from entering their work places in the Center of World Economy and International Relations. Workers have not been paid for the last four months. The primary trade union has filed a complaint with the court and brought the issue to the attention of the media.

Disappearance of Ukrainian union leader and his two sons09-02-2015

The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) reported that on 6 October 2014 Volodymyr Stepanenko, the KVPU leader at the “Kalinin” mine, was forcefully detained by armed people associated with security forces of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. His two sons, Maxim and Sergyi, who tried to find out where their father was being held, were also detained and taken to an unknown place. One week before Volodymyr and his sons disappeared, he had visited the mine and the head of the mine security service had physically assaulted him.

Other cases of violence against union activists have also been reported in Eastern Ukraine. In June 2014, Ivan Resznichenko, an official of the Independent Miners’ Union (NPGU) at the “Artemsil” enterprise disappeared. In May 2014 two activists of NPGU, Alexander Vovk and Alexander Gurov, were captured and beaten by the military.

Lengthy process for starting a strike24-09-2014
Non-remittance of union dues24-09-2014

Non-remittance of union dues despite valid collective agreements has been used by employers to undermine unions. For example, the Independent Trade Unions of Coal Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) has not received dues corresponding to 100 000 Hryvnas from the coal mine Velycomostivska.


Alina Bazarnaya, union official at the company “Volyntorf”, informed the KVPU that the manager of the company took control of the union and was even conducting meetings with members asking for a vote of no confidence against Alina Bazarnaya.

Physical threats 16-12-2013

Physical threats and attacks on trade unionists have regularly been witnessed. In January 2014, Valentyna Korobka, leader of the Free Trade Unions of Entrepreneurs, was attacked near her home and hospitalised. On 16 December 2013 Volodymyr Stepanchenko, leader of the primary trade union at a coal mine in Donets Oblast of Ukraine, was attacked by the coal-mine security when he was giving an interview to a French journalist.

Dismissals without consultation20-08-2013

Petro Garmash, leader of the Independent Trade Union of DonbassAero Company, reported that 724 employees at the company were dismissed from work without consultations with trade unions in violation of the law and an enterprise level collective agreement. Oleg Novikov, the General Director of DonbasAero refused to recognize the collective agreement as an effective document and did not consult the union with regard to staff reduction and dismissals. The union appealed to the General Prosecutor, the Ministry of Social Policy, the Labor Inspection, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Dues and Taxes and the Ministry of Economy which has not led to any results so far.

Discrimination and trade union harassment03-07-2013

Pavel Efimovich, the head of the primary trade union in Korosten reported that the administration of the locomotive depot discriminated and put pressure on him because of his trade union activities. The KVPU sent an official letter to the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine, requesting to investigate the situation and undertake appropriate measures.

Dismissed union leader30-06-2013

The trade union leader of the primary trade union of the NPGU at “Interpipe NTZ” was dismissed without consultation with the union or any justification. An appeal was filed with teh local administrative court.

Union activities are hampered19-05-2013

Sergyi Bizhko, head of the primary trade union of the NPGU “Production Unit - South Machinery Building Plant named after Makarov," reported that management refuses to provide premises for trade union activities. He stated that trade union leaders to do not get time off for trade union activities. The union filed a case with the court.

Breach of collective agreement31-05-2013

Igor Pryzhbylo reported to the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine that manamgent of Ordzhonikidzevugillia breached a collective agreement with the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) in Unokomunarivsk and Vuglegirsk. According to the collective agreement, the company owes the union 214.450,00 Hryvnas for cultural and health activities at the coal-mine Poltavska.

Anti-union dislocations21-03-2013

The Izmail trade port is trying to change the location of the jobs of trade unionists transferring them to remote place without a clear job description. Management refuses to issue a written justification about the transfer. The union is still carrying out consultations with the port administration.

Suspension of trade union activities18-12-2012

The activities of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) in the Zaporojia Oblast region were prohibited by the Zaporojia Regional Administrative Court on 18 December 2012 because the union did not provide its tax declaration on time.

Violence against trade unionists31-10-2012

In October 2012, Valentyna Koroba, the head of the Free Trade Unions of Entrepreneurs of Ukraine was physically attacked by Natalia Boitchenko, manager of the market where she works.

Refusal to bargain in good faith31-10-2012
Infringement of collective agreements30-11-2012

In November 2012, the state enterprise “Selidovugillia” violated the sectoral collective agreement between the Ministry of Energy and Coal Mining Industry of Ukraine and all-Ukrainian trade unions in the coal mining industry by reducing and transferring staff to other work places.

Interference in trade union premises31-07-2012

The management of the “Novodruzhivska” mine of OJSC “Lesechanskvugillya” informed the plant level union in July 2012 that it could not use its premises anymore and that Chairman Marchenka should no longer be its representative.

Interference in trade union activities31-08-2012

Mr. Zavgorodniy R.V., Chairman of the primary trade union of workers in foreign enterprises “Coca-Cola beverages Ukraine Limited” was not permitted to take leave in order to attend an educational seminar provided for KVPU members in April and August 2012.

Anti-union discrimination31-10-2012
Labour laws disregarded31-12-2011

The Ukrainian trade union movement had to fight in 2011 against proposed reforms promoted by the IMF, and against a new draft Labour Code, which would reduce the right of trade unions to protect their members from unfair dismissal. Despite the protests, the new Code looked set to become law in 2012. The minority trade union centres were highly critical of the new law on social dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. (which came into force at the beginning of 2011), which in practice excludes minority trade union centres from tripartite social dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. at the national level, while the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FPU) found itself the target of an anti-union campaign. The Chair of the FPU, Vasil Hara, was summoned to the prosecutor’s office in June; the FPU leadership was accused of the illegal privatisation of trade union assets, and the House of Unions in Kiev was searched by the tax police in August. Vasil Hara resigned on 7 November, and was succeeded by Yuri Kulik.

The FPU and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) noted that trade union rights were repeatedly violated.

The KVPU reports numerous cases of pressure against trade union members, union busting union busting Attempts by an employer to prevent the establishment of a trade union or remove an existing union, e.g. by firing union members, challenging unions in court, or by forming a yellow union. , the inefficiency of the courts and law enforcement bodies when the unions turn to them for protection, and the poor enforcement of court decisions. They additionally note that employers resist the establishment of new trade unions, ignore local trade unions and refuse to collect membership dues (using the check-off check-off A system where union dues and fees are automatically deducted by the employer from the workers’ paychecks and then remitted to the respective union. system).

Both the FPU and KVPU suffer from anti-union discrimination anti-union discrimination Any practice that disadvantages a worker or a group of workers on grounds of their past, current or prospective trade union membership, their legitimate trade union activities, or their use of trade union services. Can constitute dismissal, transfer, demotion, harassment and the like.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework

and interference by the public authorities in their trade union activities, and from employers’ failure to respect the right to organise and to bargain collectively.

Collective bargaining losing its effectiveness31-12-2010
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