Ucrania - Judicial persecution of FPU (2010)

In different regions of Ukraine, most notably Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad, and Mykolaiv, certain individuals have been filing lawsuits against organisations affiliated to the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FPU), and against trade union leaders, seeking to reverse trade unions’ decisions, suspend the leaders, and dissolve the organisations. A total of 106 complaints were lodged during the year.

All plaintiffs asked the courts to order the defendants to present internal trade union documents, such as minutes of meetings, certificates and seals, and to review the case without the defendants’ participation. Most lawsuits, even those filed in different courts, were exactly the same, and most plaintiffs were not trade union members. Many of the claims contained forged addresses, incorrect job titles of the plaintiffs, and false references to the decisions of trade union bodies that allegedly violated the plaintiffs’ rights.

Irregularities were noted in the initial stages of the court procedures. For example, on 3 February, the Leninskiy district court in Kirovohrad launched the proceedings of 11 lawsuits and conducted preliminary hearings on the same day, without sending the defendants copies of the lawsuits or the court order on the date of the main hearings. In June, the Zavodsky district court in Mykolaiv announced the initiation of proceedings of 12 lawsuits in a local newspaper instead of informing the defendants directly. Preliminary hearings were conducted in the judge’s office, with all 36 parties to the lawsuits present at the same time. On 20 November, the Kirovsky district court in Dnipropetrovsk received 18 identical lawsuits from plaintiffs living in different regions, against different defendants. The judge scheduled the preliminary hearings on all cases for 24 November. FPU turned to the Supreme Court and other authorities for assistance.

Eventually, 104 of the cases were resolved in favour of FPU or its affiliates by 1 December. However, trade unions had to dedicate considerable time and energy to the legal proceedings, which interfered with normal trade union work. As the lawsuits were clearly a concerted action without a sound factual basis, trade unions are convinced that this was a campaign to undermine FPU and its affiliates.

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