Ucrania - Trade unions harassed (2010)

The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) notes that employers are resistant to the establishment of new trade unions because they consider it a violation of the tradition of workers’ obedience, deeply rooted in the communist era.

For example, workers at the agrarian complex Pushcha Vodytsa near Kyiv created an organisation affiliated to the All-Ukrainian trade union Defence of Justice, and it was officially registered before April. Since according to the law, minority unions do have certain rights, the union asked the management to provide a copy of the existing collective agreement and to organise check-off for trade union dues. The company director-general simply returned all the correspondence to the union, adding that the organisation simply did not exist. The employer maintained the same tactics throughout the attempts of the union to achieve recognition. Moreover, in July, the members of the new trade union committee were summoned to the district police branch and prosecutor’s office to give explanations on the creation of the union. Pressure on the union members decreased following the intervention of the KVPU leadership, but in December, two representatives of the prosecutor’s office visited Pushcha Vodytsa and asked many workers for written statements on whether they belonged to the Defence of Justice local organisation or not.

Another example is the KVPU-affiliated Octan trade union in the largest petrol producer in the country, CJSC “Linik”. Management has been threatening union members with dismissal or wage cuts unless they resign from the union, or at least authorise the administration not to transfer their union dues. The company has also used manipulative tactics such as announcing the redundancy of 244 workers in July while in fact planning significantly fewer lay-offs. Of seven Octan members to be made redundant in October, four resigned from the union and remained employed while two others were dismissed.The union sought help from the police and prosecutor’s offices, but to no avail. As a result, in just over a year union membership shrunk from 930 to 186.

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