Ukraine Government Slammed at UN for Regressive Labour Law Proposals

The Ukraine Government has been heavily criticised at the UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) for proposing new laws which would significantly erode fundamental labour rights and contradict ILO standards.

The proposed legislative amendments were developed behind closed doors, without meaningful consultations with representative trade unions.

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), a body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is currently holding its 67th session in Geneva, with PSI attending on behalf of affiliates.

At the meeting, PSI’s Trade Union Rights officer Camilo Rubiano outlined how the changes proposed by the Ukraine government include:

- the unilateral termination of employment contracts without severance pay (likely to particularly impact trade unionists and whistleblowers)

  • the expansion of short-term contracts

  • the introduction zero-hours contracts

  • a drastic reduction in overtime pay and existing limitations on overtime work

  • the abolition of many social guarantees

  • reduced protection for mothers with small children (making their dismissal even easier).

What is the CESCR?

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a United Nations body of 18 experts that meets to consider member-states' compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (a follow up to the UN Declaration on Human Rights).

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The draft legislation submitted to parliament also introduces new rules that restrict the fundamental right to freedom of association. For instance, it includes the limitation of workplace unions to a maximum of two and, even more concerning, the abolition of the right of trade unions to strike at territorial, sectoral and national levels.

A representative from the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine referred to these objections by saying “things are not as they used to be,” while critizing trade unions and claiming workers have “too many benefits.”

"PSI and our affiliates around the world will support the Ukrainian Union movement to defeat these atrocious new proposals which would send labour rights back to the dark ages." - Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary

Mr. Chen, Vice-chair of the Committee, requested that the government provide explanations on these amendments, which represent a complete overhaul of labour relations in the country and will have a huge negative impact on workers.

PSI will be joining other Global Union Federations and dozens of unions around the world to protest the proposed law changes at Ukrainian embassies and consulates on February 25th 2020.