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ITF backs unions against ‘slavery law’ in Ukraine

news 10 Jan 2020

The ITF has joined with global unions and its Ukrainian affiliates to oppose a draft labour law that will severely undermine workers’ rights and contravene national labour law and international labour standards. 

Today, ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton has written to the president of Ukraine calling on his government to withdraw the law, which was introduced in Parliament on 27 December. 

Mr Cotton said: “With this new law, trade unions will become outsiders, they will be deprived of the right to participate in the development of policy in the area of labour relations, wages and social protection.

“The whole system of labour law and social protection is being dismantled. The law on labour has already been nicknamed a ‘slavery law’. Massive transition to individual contracts will deprive workers of their rights, and every worker will have to individually bargain over their wages and working conditions … it is incumbent upon the government of Ukraine to withdraw this draft labour law without any delay.”

In the letter, Mr Cotton reminds President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine’s obligations under international law: “The draft law is in contravention of core international labour standards, undermines workers’ fundamental rights and is a regression from the current Ukrainian national labour law.”

The new law violates several International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions that Ukraine has ratified including minimum wage fixing (no. 131), freedom of association and protection of the right to organise (no. 87) and right to organise and collective bargaining (no. 98).

Ukrainian trade union federations and ITF-affiliated unions are actively campaigning against the law, which has attracted strong international opposition from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Industriall global union and the European Public Services Union.

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