Ukraine : Trudova Halychyna, the voice of the workers of Galicia


Patrick Le Tréhondat Trudova Halychyna

September 1, 2023

Trudova Halychyna (Laborious Galicia) sets itself the objective “to shed light on a subject that is today ignored by Ukrainians: the economic, social and cultural situation of Galician workers. So we have to see workers in factories and workshops, construction companies, communal enterprises, land farms, bazaars and supermarkets, cafes and canteens, galleries and museums.” After a suspension of its publications in April 2022, this organ of social information has recently resumed its activities. In particular, it published an interview with the Lviv crane operators' union, a study on the inequalities in wages and working conditions for nurses and doctors. Its animation team was kind enough to answer our questions.

Can you introduce us to Trudova Halychyna , its history, its activities since its foundation?

Trudova Halychyna is an informational platform, that was initially founded in October 2019 by the activists of the “Socialniy Ruch” (Social Movement). It’s goal is to highlight issues with work conditions, strikes, protests, etc. focusing mainly on the Galicia region of Ukraine (Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk regions). Since the channel was founded, it published hundreds of news about and brought to the light many issues of the western Ukrainian workers.

After the full scale invasion started, or priorities shifted and many of our activists either went to the army, moved abroad or spread across Ukraine. The channel activity was put on a pause. But full scale war did not change the fact that workers in Ukraine suffer under capitalism. Although war has dragged most of the attention from labor related issues, they didn’t go away, and in many ways have only gotten worse. Taking this into account, we decided to renew the channel activity and continue publishing.

How do you assess the situation of workers in Galicia since the start of the war?

Workers’ situation in western Ukraine since the start of the full scale invasion in many ways reflects the general situation with workers in our country. Although western Ukrainians are much less affected by the Russian missile strikes and aggressive war actions, they are nevertheless subject to the new emergency labor laws, that was put in action by the Ukrainian government. These laws were adopted in the first month after invasion and mostly focus on providing business owners with more freedom to dismiss workers or sent them into unpaid downtime, limiting the authority of labor inspectors and unions, etc. These laws are considered temporary and would be active until the war is over, but there were already some indicators that parliamentarians are not going to stop there and will try their best to make those changes permanent.

Huge part in this situation played the official ban on any strikes during the war. Before the war, strikes were hugely important in worker’s struggle for better conditions here in Galicia. For example, only during last two years before the full scale invasion there were successful strikes of miners, crane operators and medical workers in Lviv region.

Can you describe the trade union movement in Galicia ? and its activities since February 24, 2022, its difficulties ?

Workers in western Ukraine are much less affected by the direct consequences of the war and have more capacities for organized resistance. Since the beginning of the invasion many workers from the southern and eastern regions have moved to the west, thus increasing the supply on the labor market and creating opportunities for the employers to seek lowering the wages. This is one of the main problems the Lviv Crane Workers Union is dealing with now: while they are trying to push for increase in hourly wage to $5,4, many new workers, who have moved to Lviv from other regions are willing to work for less than $3,5, only to get the job. Naturally, many employers take advantage of this situation. So reaching out to non-unionized workers and motivating them to demand higher wages from their bosses became the priority.

After the beginning of the full scale invasion many of the workers, union activists among them, were either drafted to the army, or joined the military as volunteers. So important part of the unions work during the war is providing material support to their comrades in the army: buying equipment, clothes, vehicles, etc. Fundraisers are held regularly, with union members and non-unionized workers alike donating enthusiastically thousands upon thousands hryvnias.

What are your projects ?

For the last few month we have conducted several interviews with workers activists. First of them was with Marta Bernagevych, a doctor from Velykyi Lubin, Lviv region, who was one of the medical workers in a local hospital that went on a protest to remove head of their medical facility, who was involved in corruption. They protest was successful and we asked her about the challenges they faced on the way to organizing the protest. Second interview was with Lubomir from the Lviv Crane Workers Union. He told us about the history of the union and the challenges they face during the war time.

Our other projects include workers’ inquiry among the crane operators in Lviv region, interview with a conscript soldier about conditions in Ukrainian army, and also an educational project, aimed at helping women, who have lost their jobs.

Today, you are publishing on Galicia, do you think you will one day cover the whole of Ukraine?

Actually, we are planning to continue covering local affairs in the Galicia region, since covering the whole of Ukraine will inevitably blur our focus and require much more resources from our team. We are the part of the Socialniy Ruch, which is an all-Ukrainian organization, and would like to encourage our comrades from different cities: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Kryvyi Rih, to organize similar platforms that would focus on their respective regions. While the official platform of the whole organization could highlight most significant news from each region and focus on covering broader and more fundamental issues.