US LABOR DAY: Ukraine’s Anti-Worker Law

The Zelensky government has claimed it is trying to alleviate the difficulties faced by companies in wartime. However, it first tried to introduce the new law in 2021.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in March. (President of Ukraine)

By ODR Team

On Aug. 17 Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky ratified Law 5371, which removes rights for workers at small and medium-sized companies. It will be effective for as long as the country is under martial law — a qualification added at the last minute, under pressure from trade unions.

Under the new law, people who work for firms with up to 250 employees will now be covered by contracts they negotiate as individuals with their bosses, rather than the national labour code.

In practice, this means that around 70 percent of workers in Ukraine have been stripped of many labour protections.

Collective agreements negotiated by unions — over salary or holidays, for instance — no longer apply. The law also removes the legal authority of trade unions to veto workplace dismissals.

[Related: Ukraine Uses Russian Invasion to Wreck Workers’ Rights]

The Ukrainian government has claimed it is trying to alleviate the difficulties faced by companies in wartime. However, it first tried to introduce the new law in 2021.

Ukraine’s ruling Servant of the People party argued that “the extreme over-regulation of employment contradicts the principles of market self-regulation [and] modern personnel management.”

The policy is opposed by Ukraine’s Federation of Trade Unions and has been criticised by a joint European Union-International Labour Organisation project. Some of its critics argue that the government is using Russia’s invasion as an excuse to push for deregulation and the stripping back of social support.

In July, Nataliia Lomonosova of Ukrainian think tank Cedos told openDemocracy that these were long-term policy goals of Zelensky’s government, likely aimed at attracting foreign investment.

Law 5371 is not an isolated measure. In July, two other laws were passed: one allows employers to stop paying workers who have been called up to fight, while the other legalises zero-hours contracts. The latter will remain in place even when martial law is lifted.

Another draft bill proposes a drastic overhaul of Ukraine’s labour code itself. This would introduce a maximum 12-hour work day and allow employers to dismiss workers without justification.

The Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine is launching a challenge to Law 5371 in the country’s constitutional court, and is appealing to the ILO and other international bodies. They argue that martial law prevented them from calling protests and strikes to oppose the legislation.

This article is from openDemocracy.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

6 comments for “US LABOR DAY: Ukraine’s Anti-Worker Law

  1. Frank Lambert
    September 4, 2022 at 22:53

    First thing I have noticed over the past twenty years on websites that have (with the exception of course, of publications like “Labor Notes”, an excellent labor magazine, in print form and online, there are very few comments made by folks who comment about so many other topics, that I can see why the working-class is losing many of the hard fought for gains going back to the 1930’s, through the 1970’s, especially in Imperial America.

    The anti-union Nazi Party led by the anti-union Chancellor Adolph Hitler, literally tore up union contracts, and from what I read, forced the German people to work 12 hours a day. Since Nazism in Ukraine is fashionable now, in the US (Jews and Gentiles alike who are anti-Russian and anti-Putin) and the flunky subservient NATO nations since the US led coup in 2014, support them with tax dollars which could be used for better things than armed conflict, but that’s another subject.

    Billions for the Zelensky’s of the world who crack down on labor standards, is par for the course in the Imperial States of America, contrary to the rhetoric coming out of the mouths of the one corporate and Wall Street Party, with two factions – the Repulsives and the DemoRATS, giving the illusion each side is fighting for their constituents and the American people!

    Welcome to the Dark Ages, 21st Century style!

    Ah, what do I know? I’m just a retired old union man and very proud of it, and a good shop steward back in the day!

    In Solidarity, Workers of the World! UNION YES!

  2. Dictynna
    September 4, 2022 at 10:49

    Our oligarchs search for helpless cheap labor with as much dedication as they prowl in search of resources.

  3. michael888
    September 3, 2022 at 16:17

    “Last month, Ukraine’s parliamentarians voted to give themselves a 70% salary increase. Filings indicate the raise was enabled and encouraged by the billions of dollars and euros of aid that have poured in from the US and Europe.”

    Worthy victims (corrupt politicians) vs unworthy victims (workers).

  4. Realist
    September 3, 2022 at 15:01

    So, the smaller the rump state of Ukraine existing after the coming partition, the better for the workers. Russia seems to treat its workers quite well, even the Ukrainians invited to become Russian citizens, or merely to live and work in Russia, since all the turmoil was initiated by the Ukie coup government under Washington’s aegis. They all get pensions or some form of welfare since Putin will not let them starve in the American fashion when society and the economy breaks down. Ironic that America is the country with the motto “In God we trust!”

  5. jo6pac
    September 3, 2022 at 11:55

    It’s just test run and soon spreading to eu & Amerika.

  6. hodgicus
    September 3, 2022 at 07:09

    Few workers in the US have any notion of such rights as Ukrainians have just lost. Even in the union shop I joined in 1980, my employer was allowed to lay me off for any reason or none. Once the unions disappeared, I was utterly helpless. There was no treatment so shabby that my boss, any boss I ever knew, would flinch at imposing it. Naturally, the sycophants began to prosper amazingly, and now they run every company in the country, and most institutions, besides. Merit and deserved reward are risible notions in the American corporate workplace, which traded the bulk of its wealth production activities for training good little fascists decades ago.
    Hope you love your jobs, America, because you’ll soon be living in a country where there’s no clocking out and going home.

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