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).

Ukraine ratified Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948) in 1956 and Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949) in 1956.

In practice

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FPU’s property seized by the government19-01-2022

The Ukrainian government attempted to use criminal investigations and prosecutions by the police and the security forces as well as the judiciary in an attempt to confiscate trade union properties. On 19 October 2021, the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv issued a ruling for the seizure of the immovable property of the Federation of the Trade Unions of Ukraine (the FPU), including the Trade Union House in Kyiv, which was built with trade union funds in 1980 and rebuilt on its own after the fire in 2019. The ruling was registered on 5 January 2022.

Regrettably, the court hearing during which this ruling was issued was held without notice to the FPU. The FPU has appealed the court ruling. This notwithstanding, on 19 January 2022 the prosecutor’s office filed a request to transfer the seized property to the National Agency of Ukraine for Detention, Search and Management of Assets Derived from Corruption and Other Crimes. If upheld, this will deprive the FPU of its current trade union premises in addition to depriving it of access to the other trade union properties it uses for its trade union activities.
Furthermore, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine have approved the draft laws “On Legal Regime of Property of All-Union Public Associations (Organizations) of Former USSR” and “On Moratorium on Alienation of Property of All-Union Public Associations (Organizations) of Former USSR”. The draft laws were introduced in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on 10 December 2021 with registration numbers 6420 and 6421 and are under consideration by the relevant committees of the Verkhovna Rada.

These two laws affecting trade unions were introduced in the Verkhovna Rada unilaterally and without meaningful consultation with trade unions. The relevant committees are considering these draft laws without the participation of the trade unions concerned.
This is a blatant attack on the inviolability of trade union property and a disregard for due process and the rule of law.

Ukrainian government hires consultants to bash unions in public opinion10-11-2021

At the end of 2019, the Ukrainian government proposed an anti-union bill to weaken the influence of workers and their unions. It has further proposed changes to the trade union law aiming to take away properties and assets of the unions. Together these changes would significantly reduce the voice of workers. These proposed changes are incompatible with International Labour Organization (ILO) standards and the social legislation of the European Union. So far, trade unions have been successful in blocking the proposals.
However, the Ukrainian government has now hired a consultancy agency to turn public opinion, which according to its own analysis, is predominately against the reforms. These consultants have developed a whole strategy to convince Ukrainian people of the reform, using official and social media as well as a selected list of public figures to speak in favour of the reform to create an anti-union climate in public opinion.

Ukrainian government expedites draft law to seize union property07-10-2021

The Ukrainian authorities use criminal investigations and the judiciary to seize trade union properties. The state agencies entered trade union premises during the congress of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FTUU), detracting from and paralysing legitimate trade union activities.
The incidents have been reported to the ILO, which requested the government to engage in consultations with the trade union organisations in order to find a mutually agreeable solution. Instead, the government has commenced an expedited legislative process to adopt draft legislation on “the legal regime of property of all-union public associations (organisations) of the former USSR”). The legal uncertainty, the absence of legislative predictability, and the general sense of insecurity for trade unions occasioned by these systematic attacks and constant legislative debates surrounding the operation of trade unions undermines trade union activities and the full exercise of trade union rights in Ukraine.

Illegal surveillance of Ukraine union headquarters15-07-2021

A hidden video-surveillance camera discovered on Monday was recording the entrance of the central office of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) – an act described by the organisation as illegal and a possible attempt to interfere with trade union activity.
“The KVPU is deeply concerned about possible negative consequences for people, especially for activists and whistleblowers who visited our [Kyiv] office,” says KVPU Chairperson Mykhailo Volynets. Visiting diplomats and politicians may also have been illegally surveilled.
Describing the discovery as “alarming”, KVPU International Secretary Olesia Briazgunova says the organisation is demanding a thorough police investigation and the opening of a criminal case.
“A lot of people come here to get legal assistance, discuss trade union activities or inform about corruption,” says Volynets, who fears for those helping KVPU prevent the adoption of draft laws that narrow worker rights in contradiction of international labour standards and those who are highlighting corruption in the coal industry and state-owned transport enterprises.
The recording of people without their consent, except in specific cases established by law, is prohibited by Article 307 of the Civil Code of Ukraine, says KVPU.

Draft law no. 5388 would empower employers to impose conditions of employment unilaterally10-05-2021

Ukrainian unions denounce draft law no. 5388, which was prepared and tabled in the parliament without proper consultation with trade unions. The bill proposes to allow for inclusion of additional provisions in the national legislation regulating the employment relationship, including elimination of the requirement of trade union consent to dismissal of workers at the employer’s initiative, and minimisation of the level of trade union influence on the determination of working conditions at the workplace.
The proposal would give employers the power, unilaterally, to dismiss workers, which would invite discrimination and retaliation against workers for trade union activity or membership, whistleblowers and other workers who exercise their human rights. The bill would also empower employers to impose key terms and conditions of employment, that is, to unilaterally regulate matters that should be subject to collective bargaining. This bill is clearly contrary to the fundamental principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Anti-worker draft law tabled in the parliament 21-04-2021

Ukrainian unions are concerned over at least seven anti-worker and anti-union draft laws in violation of the national constitution and international labour standards, including ILO conventions and EU directives.
This follows last year’s mass protests against attempts by the government to reform Ukraine’s labour laws and introduce such laws in a manner that critics argued was not consistent with international labour standards. Instead of a single labour law reform, the government has instead introduced a number of separate laws which unions say give more powers to employers and strip back worker rights. Draft law no. 5371, submitted to the parliament on 13 April, proposes a new “contractual regime for regulating labour relations” for small and medium-sized enterprises with less than 250 workers, with all working conditions determined by an employment contract instead of by labour law. This draft law threatens the majority of workers, since almost 75 per cent of employers employ less than 250 people, and 73.1 per cent of the economically active population work in small and medium-sized enterprises.
All norms and provisions that would normally be in the collective agreement would instead be set in the employment contract with each worker. For example, the employment contract would determine the grounds for dismissal instead of the current strict list of grounds provided by the labour code.
“Different employment contracts with workers that perform the same volume of work in the same working conditions can lead to discrimination if they receive different wages due to personal preferences and other subjective criteria of the employer,” says the chairman of the Trade Union of Metalworkers and Miners of Ukraine (PMGU), Alexander Ryabko.

ArcelorMittal refuses negotiations on wages07-04-2021

The Trade Union of Metalworkers and Miners of Ukraine (PMGU) demanded a 30 per cent wage increase for nearly 24,000 workers at the ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih steel plant to reach the wage level of industry competitors and cover inflation.
One thousand workers took part in a protest rally organised by PMGU on 30 March to express their objection to the company’s unilateral decision to increase wages by only five per cent from 1 May 2021. Ukraine has a high inflation rate and increase of consumer prices, which for 2020 reached 27 per cent for utility bills, 37 per cent for electricity tariffs, and 19 to 56 per cent for bread, pasta, flour, cereals, eggs and sugar. The increase of five per cent imposed by company management is in fact a significant wage cut.
The management decision on wage levels was taken unilaterally, without union involvement, in violation of the collective agreement that states that determination of the increase shall be carried out annually based on the company’s performance, and with union approval. The previous wage increase took place in May 2019, with workers patiently waiting two years for an increase, mindful of the employer’s challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The unilateral decision is seen as a blatant breach of the principle of negotiation in good faith.
Natalya Marynyuk, local chair of PMGU at ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, said that since September 2020, the union has addressed the CEO seven times regarding the wage increase and insisted that negotiations be sped up. However, for almost half a year, management has deliberately impeded the negotiation process in order to postpone the date of the wage increase for as long as possible.

Unions mobilise against legislative assault on workers’ and trade union rights15-01-2020

The government of Ukraine is preparing a massive legislative assault on fundamental trade union rights. On 27 December, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine submitted to the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) a new draft law on labour which would strip workers of legal protections and unions of their ability to protect them. Measures envisaged include excluding unions from the workplace and eliminating collective bargaining; encouraging unfair dismissals while promoting fixed-term and zero-hours contracts; facilitating the transfer of employees without their consent; imposing a massive expansion of overtime; and eliminating many social protections, for example by facilitating the dismissal of mothers with small children.

Other draft laws have been recently introduced in the same manner, namely draft laws “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine (Concerning Some Issues of Trade Union Activity)” (Reg. No. 2681); “On Amendments to the Labour Code of Ukraine concerning Additional Grounds for Dismissal” (Reg. No. 2584); and some others. They will erode fundamental rights in breach of international standards.

The proposed law is in flagrant violation of numerous fundamental and technical Conventions of the ILO, in particular ILO Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association; ILO Convention No. 98 on Collective Bargaining; ILO Convention No. 144 on Tripartite Consultations; and ILO Convention No. 131 on Minimum Wage Fixing, as well as the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

Furthermore, these legislative amendments were developed behind closed doors and without full and frank tripartite consultations with representative trade unions.

Ukrainian unions have announced a protest campaign rejecting the draft laws and the approach of the government. International solidarity is organising.

Assailants attack local trade union leader10-01-2020

At approximately 9:30 p.m. on the evening of 10 January 2020, Serhiy Barabashuk, the chairperson of the Primary Trade Union Organization of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU), PJSC “Sukha Balka”, was attacked by two assailants armed with a knife and brass knuckles.

The Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine considers that the reason for the attack was Barabashuk’s activity as a trade union leader. The one day before the attack happened, Serhii Barabashuk was prevented from entering the Juvileina Mine, where he had planned to meet with representatives of the workers’ collective. He is known as an active defender of workers’ labour rights as a deputy chair of the local organisation of the NPGU in Kryvyi Rih.

Absence of social dialogue about non-payment of wages in the state-owned coal mines22-10-2018

The Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NGPU) and the Confederation of Free Trade Union of Ukraine (KVPU) supported several protests of workers in the coal sector against the non-payment of wages in the coal sector, including national protests in July and August 2018. At the beginning of October, the wage debt in the coal sector was estimated at UAH 1.2 billion. Some miners have not been paid since spring 2018. The government failed to engage in meaningful social dialogue with trade unions about the future of the industry and in particular about finding solution in order to address the wage demands of workers. On 18 September the chairman of the Local Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) in Selidovo and Novogrodivka, Viktor Trifonov, started a hunger strike in the office of the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine to protest against the lack of solution to the non-payment of wages arrears to miners of the SOE “Selidivugillia”. On 22 October, 15 miners of the mine G.G. Kapustin PJSC “Lisichanskvugillia” started a protest action underground in extreme conditions dangerous to health.

State attacks against the Trade Union Federation of the Chernigovskaya Regio18-06-2018

On 16 January 2018, 13 March 2018 and 18 June 2018, the State Assets Fund of Ukraine (SAFU) attempted to interfere in the activities of the Training and Methods Development Centre, a basic training facility providing training to over 10,000 union members annually and owned by the Chernigovskaya Regional branch of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FPU). During each incident, SAFU representatives requested that the centre produce all legal documents proving ownership and required staff to give them access to the premises to “determine whether the union was using the centre in accordance with their declared aims and goals”. In the past, SAFU had made several other abusive and illegitimate visits to the Centre, despite a ruling of the Supreme Economic Court of Ukraine of 19 February 2015, in which it recognised that the Training and Methods Development Centre was lawfully used by the Trade Union Federation of the Chernigovskaya Region. Threats to the Centre have not abated as currently the Cabinet of Ministers is considering its transfer to a governmental body or institution for permanent use.

State-owned Ukraine Railway Ukrzaliznytsia engages in anti-union action14-05-2018

On 14 May 2018, employees of the Ukrainian state railway network Ukrzaliznytsia started a work-to-rule action, in protest of the deplorable state of the railway rolling stock, threatening health and safety of workers and passengers on a daily basis. Workers also continued to protest low wages and excessively long working hours, all these factors resulting in a low life expectancy among workers in the sector. Drivers at Kremenchug, Kryvyi Rih, Darnytsa (Kyiv), and other rail depots refused to drive trains that do not meet safety requirements. The company responded with several anti-union actions, including the engagement of the employer-controlled union organisation in the talks with the government and reportedly paying the strike-breakers with sums amounting to a one-month salary.

ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih steel plant undermines negotiations over wages 14-05-2018

Between March and May, the management of ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih steel plant undertook a number of anti-union actions against the workers. On 27 March, the management tried to disrupt the general assembly of workers by announcing another venue. The assembly managed to take place and to approve the employees’ demands, as well as the structure of the body authorised to represent their interests in dispute, but the management immediately challenged its legality in the court, unsuccessfully. Subsequently, the management organised an exhausting 26-hour long session of negotiations, forcing a closed-doors rule. When the unions protested, demanding the right to communicate with the workers and requesting the meeting with the CEO, the management called on the security forces and the police. The talks finally resulted in the management agreeing to a creation of a conciliation commission.
On 14 May, the workers started several protests against their dismal working conditions, including a work-to-rule strike, when they refused to operate faulty machines until their technical state meets the standards.

Security Service instructs the state-owned mine to invigilate trade unions08-05-2018

In May the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) received information regarding a letter sent to the management of “Myrnogradvugilia” (State Coal Enterprise in the city of Myrnograd) from the Pokrovsk regional Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) department №2 in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. This letter instructed the management to immediately inform SBU on activities of the local chapters of the Independent Miners’ Trade Union (NPGU), an affiliated organisation of the KVPU. KVPU sent a letter to the government, including to the president, the prime minister and the head of state security service, order to immediately stop the violation of the miners’ unions’ rights, to cease the persecution of the union activists, and prevent similar illicit actions of the Security Service of Ukraine in the future.

Unidentified attackers beat female trade unionist 20-04-2018

On 20 April two unidentified men attacked Svitlana Savchuk, technical inspector of the union of the Free Trade Union of Railway workers of Ukraine at the Municipal Enterprise “City Trolleybus”. The attack took place in the aftermath of the consultation on trade union mechanisms that Savchuk gave to workers of organisation, following the protest action in the company organised against the management. According to medical reports, Savchuk suffered bodily harm and showed signs of concussion.

A union meeting disrupted by 60 attackers22-03-2018

On 22 March 2018, during the ordinary meeting of the IV Plenum of the Union’s Central Committee (CC), a group of 60 persons broke into the Prazdnichnyi conference hall of the Hotel Tourist in Kiev and interrupted a meeting of the Housing, Utility, and Domestic Services and Local Industry Workers’ Union of Ukraine that was taking place.
The attackers’ demands concerned Mr. Romanyuk, president of the Union: they insisted that he should write a formal application to retire from the position of the chair of the supervisory board of the private joint stock company Ukrprofzdravnitsa. Failing to secure Romanyuk’s consent, the attackers resorted to physical intimidation and separated him from other participants of the meeting who had risen to defend him, and then forcibly pushed him into a separate room and poured paint over him. The police were summoned, but they were late in responding and failed to prevent this act of violence.

Kurynivske trolleybus depot of Municipal Enterprise “Kyivpastrans” violates basic labour rights and refuses to recognise the creation of an independent union. Workers start a hunger strike in response.03-02-2017

Since April 2016, workers at the Kurynivske trolleybus depot of the municipal enterprise “Kyivpastrans” tried to create a local union affiliated with the Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine (VPZU).

However, management refused to recognise the union and its legitimate activities, prohibiting it from exercising any function envisaged in the legislation to advocate for workers’ rights. The acts of retaliation escalated: no membership dues were transferred to the trade union account and unionised workers experienced psychological pressure, for example they were denied shifts, their schedules were changed, their bonuses were cancelled, they received unjustified reprimands and those who were living in company dorms were threatened with eviction. Furthermore, the company fired three activists without valid legal grounds and denied workers access to the collective bargaining agreement.

In response to these violations of basic labour rights, four members of the VPZU trade union of Railway Workers of Ukraine started a hunger strike on 3 February 2017 demanding an end to basic rights violations and the reinstatement of the three illegally dismissed workers. The workers that undertook the hunger strike are Andrew Samko, the head of the independent trade union of Kurynivska trolleybus depot, "KP Kyivpastrans”, and trade union activists Tatyana Oleynik, Natalia Pristinska and Andriy Troyan.

The Independent Trade Union of Medical Workers of Ukraine (VPMPU) excluded from collective bargaining process01-12-2016

The Free Trade Union of Medical Workers of Ukraine (VPMPU), part of the territorial medical association “Kyiv Dentistry”, was prevented from participating in the collective bargaining process. The registration of the VPMU is currently being reviewed by the National Mediation and Conciliation Process as part of the ongoing collective labour dispute.

Unionised workers were pressured by management into withdrawing their union membership and were also targeted for other acts of discrimination. In September 2016, VPMPU members announced ongoing protests near the Ministry of Healthcare, setting up a tent city and starting a hunger strike carried out by the head of the union, Mr. Panasenko, and some activists. However, the camp was attacked by unknown persons, and all property and personal belongings (including documents) of the protesters were destroyed.

New legislation implemented imposing stricter control over trade unions’ finances and their “non-profit” status17-06-2016

The Cabinet of the Ministers of Ukraine and the Ministry of Finance approved two executive orders, respectively Order No.440 and No.553. This new legislation provides stricter requirements for financial reporting and for the recognition of the non-profit status of trade unions. It requires unions to submit extensive reports on their activities to national tax authorities.

The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU/FTUU) believes that these orders violate the principles of trade unions’ independence and freedom of association contained within ILO Convention No. 87, which was ratified by Ukraine in 1956. Through this intensive and intrusive power of control over trade unions’ financial situation and legal status, it is possible for the Government to interfere in their legitimate activities, which erodes their independence.

Workers of the EVRAZ Sukha Balka mining company associated with the Independent Union of Miners of Ukraine (NGPU) are being discriminated05-04-2016

In blatant anti-union behaviour, the EVRAZ Sukha Balka mining company tried to discourage the existence and the activity of the NGPU-associated trade union in the enterprise. Throughout the year, the mine company, based in the city of Kryviy Rih, perpetrated multiple violations of human rights against unionised workers, limiting in a variety of ways the right of the company union to advocate for the social and economic rights of its affiliates. In response, discriminated and harassed miners denounced the enterprise’s anti-union behaviour to foreign authorities, including through various appeals filed on 25 February (No.242) and on 5 April (addressed to UK Members of Parliament).

The Sukha Balka mine is part of the EVRAZ group whose headquarters are in London. The London-based company presents itself as a transparent and socially responsible company, declaring that it adheres to the laws of the United Kingdom, but it is not transparent or socially responsible at its Ukrainian company. The EVRAZ Sukha Balka General Director of Administration has systematically refused to provide the trade union with the requested information concerning the company’s enforcement of current legislation, collective agreements and wage payments. Trade union activity has been boycotted with systematic actions directly affecting unionised workers. Company division heads and the heads of their subsections falsified reports of workers’ administrative infringements, imposing disciplinary sanctions on a fallacious legal basis and then exploited this situation to make workers resign from the trade union, which happened to Volodymyr Tkachenko (a member of the mine construction team), who was firstly suspended and then dismissed. Another case of explicit anti-union discrimination was that of Yuri Yurchenko, an excavator machinist of the railway workshop and member of the NGPU branch organisation and of the conciliation commission for collective labour disputes. Mr.Yurchenko witnessed his salary being reduced twice and his professionalism undermined when he was suspended from his role as machinist and assigned to the lower role of locksmith. The deputy head of the NGPU branch union, Mr. Serhiy Barabashchuk, was also the victim of discrimination, as the management prevented him from completing his qualification exams and threatened him with dismissal because of his union activism.

Draft law seriously weakens collective bargaining rights25-03-2016

A draft law “About Collective Bargaining Agreements” considerably narrows the scope of collective bargaining agreements. A copy of the law, issued by the Ministry of Social Policy, was sent by the Joint Representative Body (JRB) to the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) for approval. The KVPU was not consulted during the preparation of the draft Law.

If the new law is adopted, national and territorial collective agreements will be liquidated, which could result in less protection for workers. The new bill also states that collective bargaining agreements are not obligatory measures, enabling the employer to reduce obligations and guarantees. Furthermore, the draft gives the employer the right to suspend implementation of a collective agreement for an uncertain period of time. The bill does not contain measures to hold anyone to account in the event of violations of a collective agreement.
Furthermore, it introduces language to weaken existing laws. For example, part 7 Art 65 of the Industrial Code of Ukraine is to be changed from “must conclude the collective agreement” to “can conclude”.

The Public Joint “Marganets Mining and Processing Plant” (PJ ‘MMPP’) threatens unionised workers and pressure them to resign01-03-2016

Mr. Lobas, the head of the plant union of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) at Public Joint “Marganets Mining and Processing Plant” (MMPP) in the Dnipropetrovsk region, reported violations committed by management, who harassed and threatened union members.

Mr. Lobas received four complaints from union members denouncing the discriminatory and intimidating behaviour of MMPP management against trade union activists. In particular, workers were threatened with reprimands, dismissal and financial punishments (reduction of labour participation co-efficient, warning coupons, fines, etc.). The management warned workers that the threats would escalate if they did not resign from the union and join a yellow union instead, and circulated blank forms among unionised workers pressuring them to withdraw from the NPGU trade union. It is clear that such behaviour has the aim of discouraging the presence of an independent union that can negotiate effectively for workers’ interests.

Workers of Dniprodzerzhinsk Metallurgical Plant protested against the creation of a yellow trade union11-02-2016

On 11 February 2016 several thousand workers of the joint-stock company (JSC) Dniprodzerzhinsk Metallurgical Plant gathered at a demonstration led by Mykhailo Volynets, the leader of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU), and by Mykola Zhytnyk, the head of KVPU in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Despite the attempts of the joint-stock company to interfere with the organisation and the free conduct of the meeting, workers came to make their voices heard against the illegal actions of the JSC management. The company created a “yellow” trade union controlled by the management and forced workers to resign from the existing trade union KVPU. Being intimidated and threatened with losing their jobs during the economic crisis, workers resigned from KVPU in order to affiliate to the newly created yellow union. Mykhailo Volynets addressed the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) requesting these institutions to apply necessary measures within their mandate to put an end to the violations of national trade union legislation and international standards.

Assault on mine workers’ leader 03-02-2016

Anatolyi Mukhamedzhanov, the head of the Primary Trade Union at the Novovolynska mine was beaten up in the office of the mining company’s director, on 3 February 2016. The Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) believed the purpose of the attack was to intimidate the leader of the independent miners’ union, following protests against planned closures and privatisation.

Statement of the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) denounces the beating of trade union leader03-02-2016

On 3 February 2016, the head of the primary Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) at the Novovolynska mine, Anatolyi Mukhamedzhanov, was severely beaten in the office of the director of the coal mining enterprise. After the beating, he visited a medical centre and addressed the local police and the State Security Service department.

The purpose of this attack was to intimidate the leader of the independent trade union, as he had been denouncing, together with other NPGU leaders and activists, the reckless privatisation programme that will dismantle the mine sector in Ukraine. Trade unionists and activists are constantly under pressure and intimidation, including physical abuse. For example, representatives of the Minister of Energy and Coal Mining Industry, Mr. Volodymyr Demchyshyn, used physical violence to intimidate the NPGU leader who had been demonstrating against Orders No. 41 and No. 42. Such ministerial orders envisaged the privatisation of the best mines in the country and the closure of three out of four of the remaining state-owned mines. Neither of the Orders have been discussed nor approved by trade unions (in breach of the law) and the Government has showed no interest in the destiny of those miners who will remain unemployed once this privatisation project is completed, which has legitimately angered trade unionists and activists.

Unionised workers of the Lviv higher vocational art school victims of pressure and physical violence01-02-2016

The Management of Lviv higher vocational art school has been exercising pressure on the unionised workers affiliated to the Free Trade Union of Education and Science of Ukraine (VPONU). Union members have been harassed for their activism, especially their fight against corruption. Incidents of pay decreases, threats of dismissal and reprimands have been recorded, and the head of the union, Mr. Chumaka, was physically assaulted during a teachers’ council meeting when he tried to highlight the administration’s violations. As a result of the violence used against him, he was hospitalised.

Striking miners sacked and facing possible treason charges in Donetsk13-01-2016

Miners in Kremlin-backed militant-controlled Makiyivka were facing possible trial for ‘treason’ after going on strike on 13 January 2016 over unpaid wages. According to a local newspaper, the ‘authorities’ of the self-styled ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ [‘DNR’] had identified the organisers of what they called ‘sabotage’ and were carrying out a criminal investigation.
Some of the miners were paid a part of their outstanding wages, but reports on social networks said that 132 of the strikers had been sacked. In a similar incident at the Chaikino Mine miners who went on strike on 29 December 2015 were also paid part of their wages but many were reportedly sacked According to social network reports, an order was issued to not take the striking miners on at other mines.

The city administration’s official website reported on 23 January 2016 that the so-called ‘DNR energy ministry’ had stated that: “a war is waging and no sabotage is therefore acceptable and can only be viewed as treason”. The Ministry acknowledged that there were problems with wage arrears but asserted that these were temporary.

Union activist attacked in Kryvyi Rih12-01-2016

Olena Maslova, an activist in the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NGPU) and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine, was brutally attacked on 12 January 2016. She was attacked at 11.00 at night on her way home from work at the Lenin mine. Her assailant hit her on the head from behind with a heavy object. A workers’ security patrol promptly arrived at the scene, and she was provided with medical care. Olena reported the attack to the police, but it seems that no investigation of the incident took place.
The KVPU believe that the reason for the attack could have been her union activism, as Olena is the Deputy Head of Defence of the NGPU in Kryvyi Rih and a member of the Women’s Committee.

Miners unions rights taken away in Luhansk01-12-2015

Mykhailo Volynets, the head of the Independent Miners Union, warned that the situation in the mining industry in the self-styled “Luhansk People’s Republic” (LNR) was also critical. For December 2015 and January 2016 miners were paid only 20 per cent of their wages – in Ukrainian currency 500 UAH, at a time when a kilogram of meat costs around 200. “The right to strike, to fight for their own existence has been taken away,” Volynets said. The new laws introduced in the LNR prohibit the creation of any trade unions other than the one pocket union led by members of the LNR administration.

Union property confiscated31-08-2015

The Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FPU) reported that in August 2015 the Deputy Prosecutor of Odessa filed a lawsuit in order to confiscate the trade union’s headquarters. The building was one of the union’s major assets, and had been the property of the Federation since 1984. The clear message sent by the lawsuit was that the government felt free to disregard trade unions’ right to own their own property.

Proposed new law seriously undermines trade union rights14-07-2015

The parliament of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada, approved a draft law “On State Registration of Legal Entities and Individuals – Entrepreneurs and Community Groups” at first reading on 14 July 2015.

The draft includes changes to the Law on Trade Unions which would seriously weaken the autonomy of trade unions and undermine their internal democracy. There had been no consultation with trade unions or civil society organisations on the text of the draft.

The draft cancels current laws that require the state to legalise newly formed trade unions, without discrimination or delay. Instead, an arbitrary and complex process of state registration is introduced. The proposed process would significantly complicate the formation of trade unions and be easily subject to manipulation to deny and delay registration
The draft law also changes the point at which trade unions acquire the status of legal entity from the moment when the statute was approved as stipulated in the current Law on Trade Unions to the date of their state registration. The likely result will be a delay of at least 30 days, leaving workers vulnerable to harassment and retaliation
The draft also cancels the provision of the Law on Trade Unions that the authorised body may not refuse to legalise trade unions, trade union associations, and instead includes general principles for refusing the registration of legal entities, including trade unions.
In addition, the draft requires a register of personal information about the founders of trade unions. It also gives authorised bodies the right to form trade union organisations, thereby depriving union members of the right to create primary organisations.

Another provision requires the re-registration of all trade union organisations (which are currently registered), setting out a 30-day limit (for other legal entities the limit is 24 hours). This would not only complicate the functioning of trade unions, their associations and trade union organisations at all levels, but also suggests that the law intentionally targets trade unions with the intent of obstructing their registration.

The draft introduces strict state control over the activities of trade unions and public organisations and appears to be an attempt to allow government interference and control over civil society organisations and trade unions.

Social dialogue ignored, collective agreements violated01-07-2015

As the situation in Ukraine’s mining industry continued to deteriorate, the authorities steadfastly ignored the unions and violated the terms of collective agreements. In July 2015 the trade union at the state-owned Krasnoarmiiskvugillia company received a letter from the Ministry of Energy and Coal Mining Industry of Ukraine saying that according to the State Programme for the reform of the coal mining industry, 2015-2020, Krasnoarmiiskvugillia had begun the reorganisation of the Tsentralna and “Stakhanov coal mines. There had been no consultations or discussions with the trade unions either before or during the reorganisation, said the NPGU, in violation of the Sector Agreement.

Also in July, the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) Primary Trade Union at the joint stock company Kharkivmiskgas reported that collective bargaining rights were being undermined at the company. At least four articles of their Collective Agreement contradicted the Sector Collective Agreement, providing for worse working conditions, contrary to the Labour Code. Management refused to enter into dialogue with the trade union, and instead put pressure on its leaders.

In November Natalia Necheporenko, the head of the NPGU Primary Trade Union at the state enterprise Cherkassytorf, reported that the Ministry of Energy and Coal Mining Industry had issued an order on 24 November 2015 to liquidate Cherkassytorf. There had been no negotiation or agreement on the liquidation order with the trade unions, despite a legal requirement to do so. The NPGU sent an official letter to the Minister requesting that the government abide by the legislation and carry out negotiations with the trade union. There was no reply.

In December the head of the NPGU Primary Trade Union at the Vilnogiskyi mining enterprise reported that Vilnogiskyi employees had been illegally dismissed when the enterprise was transferred to the joint stock company “Crimean Titan”. The new company refused to employ the union leader and some other union activists. Again, there was no negotiation or agreement with the trade union over the transfer of ownership, as required by law.

Union activist beaten up for demanding better safety measures01-07-2015

Volodymyr Petrovskiy, the deputy leader of the Free Trade Unions of Railway Workers of Ukraine (FTURWU), reported in July that a union member had been the victim of physical violence. Pyotr Efimovich, the Head of the Korosten Locomotive Depot in the Zhitomyr Oblast, was beaten up by A. Bolsunivsky, the Head of the Work Safety Section, after pressing on behalf of the union and the workers for improvements to work safety at the railway. His case was recorded by the militia and the medical department of Korosten railway station. By the end of the year, nobody had been brought to account for his beating.

Union leaders interrogated18-06-2015

Several union leaders and activists from the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) and the Coal Mining Workers’ Union of Ukraine were interrogated by the State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in June, in relation to demonstrations by thousands of miners who converged on the capital, Kiev, at the end of April 2015 to protest against unpaid wages and mine closures.

The reason for the interrogations was apparently that the authorities believed the protests were funded by third parties seeking to take over state power, hence a criminal investigation was launched.

Among those interrogated was Mikhailo Volynets, head of the NPGU, who was questioned for several hours on 18 June about his union activity. He strongly denied the accusations.
As the miners explained in an open letter to the government, the protests were motivated by their frustration at the mismanagement of the mining industry, which had led to numerous problems including salary arrears and mine closures. Instead of entering into social dialogue and addressing the serious problems in the industry, the authorities sought to persecute and discredit the unions. The April protests followed the Third Congress of Miners that was held by both unions in Kiev on 21 April 2015. The interrogations coincided with another round of mass union protests in Kiev in May and June.

Ukraine’s trade unions ask president for protection against repressions18-06-2015

On 18 June 2015, Ukrainian trade unions denounced the repressions by the country’s security forces. They issued a statement asking President Poroshenko to take measures to stop the persecution of trade union leaders.
In the statement published by the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU), there was written: “The President of Ukraine, as a guarantor of the Constitution of Ukraine, should stop immediately the unconstitutional actions related to harassment on the part of security forces.” The union also called on Ukraine’s Attorney General to take immediate measures to punish those involved in the falsification of criminal cases, repression and persecution of trade union leaders.
Trade unions denounced, as well, the “legal incompetence” and “irresponsibility” of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which on other occasions emerged, as well, in the persecution of KVPU and other trade union leaders, “showing signs of the formation of a totalitarian state”. Inthis respect, trade unions appealed to foreign governments, asking them to hold Ukrainian authorities accountable for a lack of compliance with international law and standards.

Union leader dismissed02-06-2015

Sergyi Godko, the head of the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) Primary Trade Union at the Vilnogirsk mining complex, was dismissed on 2 June 2015 by his employer without consultation with the trade union, which viewed his dismissal as groundless and therefore illegal. The union had reported several cases of discrimination against it.

Trade union activists beaten up31-03-2015

On 25 March 2015 Oleh Vernik, leader of the independent trade union “Defence of Labour” was attacked by a group of unknown assailants, and needed to be hospitalised. On Tuesday 31 March Vitaliy Dudin a well-known trade union solicitor was badly beaten by ten men believed to be from the ultra-right. Both Oleh and Vitaliy are members of an Organising Committee to establish a new left party in Ukraine, and both are well-known activists in the labour movement.

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.

Violation of the right to bargain collectively01-01-2015

Under pressure of the administration of Krasnoarmiiskvugillia Mine Company, workers were forced to tentatively accept dismissal in order to be subsequently reinstated in the company with fixed-term contracts. In this way the company forced workers to fulfill the same amount of work but without social benefits granted under the Collective Bargaining Agreement not applicable to a fixed-term contract. De facto the company severely undermined the right to bargain collectively maliciously abusing contractual types, as denounced by the leader of NPGU of Demitrov-town, Mr Abramov O.B.

Head of Primary Trade Union (PTU) dismissed because of her role01-01-2015

Natalia Skalska, the Head of Primary Trade Union (PTU) at the Private Joint Stock Company National Depository of Ukraine, was dismissed together with her colleagues because she spoke out about the discriminatory practices perpetrated in the enterprise. The Depository’s administration, in the person of its director Mr Zhurov G.M., in fact, discriminated against trade unionists by not recognising as legitimate PTU and neglecting the rights of its members. At present, Natalia has denounced such behaviours to KVPU and appealed to the court, and the case is still under review.

Lengthy process for starting a strike24-09-2014

Legal procedures for starting a strike often take from half a year to one year and a half. Despite serious issues, such as non-payment of salaries and extremely poor working conditions, there has not been a legal strike in the Ukraine in the past 23 years. Workers therefore carry out protests and pickets in order to raise workplace issues.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Anti-union discrimination31-10-2012

Mr. Andryi Kudelya, the head of the primary trade union “Justice Protection” was dismissed when he was in the process of filing a dispute on behalf of “Metro Cash & Carry” workers with the National Service of Mediation and Conciliation in October 2012.

Refusal to bargain in good faith31-10-2012

Members of the NPGU were forced to go on unpaid leave when they tried to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the management of the “Sadova” mine in October 2012.

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.

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.

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 (which came into force at the beginning of 2011), which in practice excludes minority trade union centres from tripartite social dialogue 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, 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 system).

Both the FPU and KVPU suffer from anti-union discrimination 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

Collective bargaining is getting increasingly complicated and less effective, one of the reasons being the deregulation of the collective bargaining process. Employers have also outright refused to bargain with trade unions, which was for example the case for Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FPU) affiliates in Chuhuiv Plumbing Company in the Kharkiv region and in Coal and Chemical Laboratory PC in the Donetsk region as well as for Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) affiliates at Kyiv Metro, Epicenter-K, and Myronivsky breadstuff JSC.

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