Trade union work in current conditions and the development of strategies in the post-Covid period

On June, 2-4, 2021 a seminar for the member organizations of IUF Ukraine on “Trade union work in current conditions and the development of strategies in the post-Covid period” took place in Svyatohirsk (Donetsk region). The event was jointly organized by the Representation of the Foundation Friedrich Ebert in Ukraine and the IUF national coordinator.

Among the participants were trade union leaders of State Enterprise “Artemsil”, Coca-Cola, JTI-Kremenchuk, Philip Morris Ukraine and Donetsk regional section of Agro-Industrial Workers’ Union of Ukraine.

During the seminar, participants discussed the main problems and challenges facing workers and unions in the workplace during the pandemic, the ability of unions to counter the spread of the pandemic and trade union strategies for the post-Covid period.

On the first day of the seminar, participants discussed the main problems and challenges facing workers and unions in the workplace during the pandemic. In particular, the participants noted the following problems and challenges: the provision of personal protective equipment to employees, the commute of employees to/from work, self-isolation and remote work, reduction of wages, employee health insurance. IUF Executive Committee Member Ivan Milykh delivered a presentation on collective action by unions during a period when they cannot be carried out due to quarantine restrictions. Psychologist Yana Klyzhenko held a session on the causes, symptoms, prevention of burnout, an issue that became even more pressing during the pandemic.

On the second day of the seminar participants had the opportunity to get familiar with the work of the primary trade union organisation of the State Enterprise “Artemsil” and to meet the trade union activists at place. During the meeting, the seminar participants stated their support for the demands of the company's staff regarding the inclusion of “Artemsil” in the list of state-owned enterprises protected from privatisation. The participants also became acquainted with the process of salt production and the working conditions of labourers at the mine №4.

On the third day of work, the participants became acquainted with the results of the study "Impact of COVID-19 on the situation of workers in the IUF sectors and trade union actions to reduce the impact of the coronavirus crisis" (Dmitro Stepanyuk, IUF coordinator in Ukraine) and the results of a survey assessing violence and harassment in sectors in which IUF member organizations (Ksenia Lepekha, ILO expert) operate. These studies were conducted in April-May 2021.

The seminar participants further discussed the possibilities of trade unions in ensuring the psychological well-being of employed men and women in a pandemic (Ksenia Lepekha).

Regarding the strategies of trade unions in the post-Covid period, the seminar participants suggested the following:

  • to demand from employers the creation of conditions for "comfortable" access to work after a long period of remote distance work;
  • to continue work on collective bargaining to raise wages and improve working conditions;
  • to seek recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational safety issue and its inclusion in the list of diseases to be covered by health insurance;
  • to encourage employers to provide testing for coronavirus at the expense of enterprises and assist employees who wish to be vaccinated voluntarily.

In addition, the participants supported their colleagues from the company Guria-Express (Georgia), who have been on strike for more than a month and demand higher wages and better working conditions. The participants of the seminar recorded and sent a video of the appeal to the striking workers.

We hope that the acquired knowledge will be used by the participants of the seminar at enterprises of the food and processing industry as well as in the agricultural sector of Ukraine. The ideas exchanged and generated in the seminar should inform the leaders of trade unions during negotiations on collective agreements and be included in the agenda of trade union work at all levels.

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
Ukraine & Belarus

wul. Puschkinska 34
01004 Kiew
Ukraine

Büro Ukraine:
+38 (044) 234 00 38
+38 (044) 451 40 31
mail(at)fes.kiev.ua

Büro Belarus:
+38 (044) 234 10 38
+38 (044) 234 10 39
belarus(at)fes.kiev.ua

Photo: FES/Bernd Raschke

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