Campaign Aid Delivered to Resistance and Rescue Squad in Ukraine

The Ukraine Solidarity Campaign has recently visited Ukraine to deliver aid and meet with sections of the labour movement.

On 2nd July members of Campaign Coordinating Committee, Sacha Ismail (Trade Union Liaison officer) and Christopher Ford (Secretary) drove a pick-up truck from London to Lviv where it was delivered to the KVPU ( Confederation of Free Trade Unions).

The vehicle was obtained with funds raised across the labour movement, with significant donations from the GMB trade union. Our campaign had it modified and made ready front use at the front, where it has now been delivered by KVPU to the 80th Separate Air Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (80 окрема десантно-штурмова бригада ДШВ ЗСУ).

Our campaign also delivered a variety of kit for use at the front and a large amount of fire service protective clothing and other aid for members of the Independent Trade Union of Mineworkers of Ukraine (NPGU) in the 10th Mining Rescue Squad in the Donetsk Oblast who are assisting the victims of Russian bombing.

Whilst in Lviv our Campaign met with the teachers, Halyna Ivashko, Nataliia Babych and part of the Council of the Free Trade Union of Education and Science of Ukraine  (VPOMU) in the city of Lviv.  The outlined the challenges being faced by teachers in wartime conditions and how teachers unions in the UK can assist them.  Teachers are low paid and have had no investment of resources since the war began, they have sought to maintain normal classes whilst also teaching online to children who are refugees abroad.  There have also been additional challenges of those children who have experienced the trauma of war and are internally displaced by the Russian invasion. VPOMU is appealing for  much needed resources for schools and also to exchange information with teaching unions on organising and agreements secured from employers in the UK.

Our Campaign also travelled to the major coal mining region of the Volyn Oblast where they met with officers of the Independent Trade Union of Mineworkers of Ukraine (NGPU) including Serhiy Makarov, secretary (NGPU) in Novovolynsk district, where we visited Mine No 9. These mineworkers are amongst the most militant in Ukraine and the only to take action since the all-out invasion began in 2022.

In particular the miners have challenged the corruption of the management of the mines.  Our delegation was able to see first hand the appalling conditions miners work, with old equipment and decrepit infrastructure.

Our campaign was presented with a signed NPGU flag to take back to UK unions – inscribed  in Ukrainian and English with: “Long live the friendship and solidarity of Ukrainian and British workers’ unions”.

NGPU in Volyn has also been in forefront of working with other trade unions of the KVPU to improve the conditions of the area, notably with their sister union the Free Trade Union of Medical Workers of Ukraine.  Our campaign saw first-hand the challenges facing a hospital in the Volyn region caused by the pressures of war, and the extreme lack of modern resources.  The Ukrainian health services is also facing the added threat form a major restructure – ‘clusterisation’  which could see the closure of entire hospitals and centralisation of services in chosen areas.  This would prove an obvious detriment to local areas in current conditions.

The Ukraine Solidarity Campaign has agreed to take forward an appeal to aid a hospital in Volyn region and will be issuing an appeal shortly.

In the city of Lviv our campaign met with the activists of the Feminist Workshop   who have two  shelters in the city caring for internally displaced woman and children. Sadly, one of these vital hospitals is now under threat of closure due to funding cuts.

Feminist Workshop seeks to create space for the formation of a feminist community in Lviv and Ukraine.  By feminism they declare the mean not just improving the position of women in society, but deeper changes in social norms, counteracting various forms of discrimination and violence.   Feminist Workshop engages in an array of activities including the provision of aid to communities near the front line of the war.

Whilst in Lviv, our Campaign also met with activists of the Social Movement and SD Platform. Social Movement is engaged in activities such as the building of an independent student union in Lviv and solidarity with the ‘Be Like Nina’ NGO to improve the position of health workers. SD Platform has an established branch in Lviv and has been active since the war in both volunteer work and educational activities. They had recently held a successful and large event for teachers in the city.

Lviv is a key access point for aid being delivered to Ukraine and home to thousands of displaced people, whilst far from the front line it remains a target, shortly after our Campaign visited the Russians bombed the city with cruise missiles killing seven people.