International union support for Ukrainian protest action

ICFTU OnLine, 047/980223/DD, 23 February 1998

Brussels. February 23 1998 (ICFTU OnLine): The ICFTU gave its full support to the All-Ukrainian Protest Action which took place throughout the Ukraine on February 19. The protest was organised by the Council of the Trade Unions Federation of Ukraine over the failure of the government's economic reforms which has meant increasing hardship for working people.

The unions are objecting over the lack of clarity in the industrial restructuring policies, and the ICFTU agrees that full transparency, accountability and participation in these policies would go a long way to guaranteeing public acceptance for the reform process. In a letter to Valeriy Pustovoytenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister, ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan said that experience has shown that the success of economic reforms depends on ensuring that there is an adequate social dimension to the process.

“We believe that the way forward for the government, employers and unions must be found, based on the recognition of the Ukrainian trade union movement as a genuine social partner in the reform process” says Bill Jordan in his letter.

One of the unions' other major complaints is over the non-payment of wages, and arrears in the payment of pensions, students scholarships, and other social payments for the years 1996—1997. The Union is demanding that the Law on Payments in Ukraine which gives priority to the payment of wage arrears in enterprises and organisations should be passed as quickly as possible. Over recent months, miners from the NPG Independent Miners' Federation have been demonstrating because they have not been paid for up to eight months.

Last year, the ICFTU organised an international campaign over the non-payment of wages in the Russian Federation, and in his letter to the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Bill Jordan, said that the ICFTU is ready to work with the Ukrainian trade union movement in a similar campaign highlighting the vital importance of a social dimension to industrial restructuring.

The Union protest was carried out on February 19 simultaneously in all the administrative territorial centres throughout the Ukraine, with the full participation of all the branch trade unions.