Greetings from Alfons BECH on behalf of ENSU trade union working group to Sotsialnyi Rukh conference, September 17, Kyiv

September 26, 2022

Alfons Bech

Delegation2022SeptlabourSocial Movement (Ukraine)

Dear colleagues, dear comrades,

On behalf of the European Network for Solidarity with Ukraine and as the coordinator of its trade union working group, I want to express our political solidarity with you at this Sotsialsyi Rukh conference.

You are certainly experiencing a change in the war situation and that means that ideas and perspectives can also change. We are very happy to be with you at such a moment and to hear your ideas, your debates and your decisions. Everything you think and decide is precious for us.

More specifically, we are keen to know what you think about the help and support we might give to the union movement in Ukraine. As you know, colleagues from the United Kingdom, France, Poland, Spain and other countries have sent your unions humanitarian, medical and logistical aid. New convoys are being prepared.

Our network also initiated an international signature campaign to try to prevent President Zelensky from ratifying various anti-worker and anti-union laws, especially Law 5371.

Although we were not able to stop the ratification of any of these laws, we managed to alert many rank-and-file trade unionists and trade union and political leaders from all over the world to the threat they posed to Ukraine’s workers and their unions.

Our network is also working with other international supporters of workers’ rights, such as the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle and the Labour Start network, with whom we have made an agreement to cooperate in future campaigns on Ukraine.

We sent your unions the message that we are following with interest what is happening in Ukraine and that, however the situation evolves, we will continue with solidarity. This, we believe, helped the Ukrainian unions, and may even have influenced the decision that Law 5371 is to apply only for the duration of the war.

We also know that more attacks on workers’ rights are being planned. Therefore, we will have to carry out new campaigns. But we want to know which campaigns you consider important. And not only which ones, but also how you think we should approach them.

We also need to explain to you what degree of understanding and commitment the trade union movement in the rest of Europe presently has to Ukraine and discuss how that can be improved.

It is through such an ongoing dialogue that we can together build campaigns that are more effective, united, and able to focus as much strength as possible on agreed objectives.

To finish, I want to stress that our union working group is greatly interested in establishing contact with Ukraine’s trade unions. That contact must serve to explore all possibilities for campaign work and solidarity aid.

For example, will the Ukrainian unions want to launch an international campaign against the next anti-union law that is being prepared? Do they also want to help initiate some sort of humanitarian or reconstruction aid project with the participation of unions and institutions in the rest of Europe and internationally? What other types of collaboration would they favour?

During my visit I will also seek to interview Ukrainian trade unionists with a view to publicising their viewpoint on such questions.

So, all our interest is to listen to and pass on what you comrades of Sotsialnyi Rukh tell us; to start preparing now, in the middle of the war, the relations and the mutual understanding for the phase of reconstruction, where the working class, the unions and Sotsialnyi Rukh itself will have a lot to say about Ukraine’s future, fighting for an economy controlled not by oligarchs and foreign multinationals but the working people of Ukraine.

We will continue together. Your victories will be ours. We want a free Ukraine and a socially just, environmentally sustainable, genuinely democratic and peaceful Europe, in solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world.

Your people’s sacrifices and heroic resistance to Putin’s invasion is an opportunity to start making that vision real.