Support the Ukraine trade union initiative


SAP Executive Committee

May 4, 2023

In the run-up to 1 May, a number of trade union representatives joined forces to launch a new initiative to support Ukrainian trade union activists. It is a welcome proposal on how we as trade unionists, socialists and anti-imperialists can both clearly support opposition to Putin's invasion - and at the same time support the progressive forces in the country that stand for a different course than the liberal Zelensky government.

Both the Danish and international trade union movement has already been active in solidarity work since the invasion, but by its very nature, a large part of the efforts have been humanitarian rather than trade union and have been about e.g. aid to displaced persons, war victims, etc. Nevertheless, part of the support has on several occasions also been about support for the trade union movement itself against the Zelensky government, which even before the war was known for its opposition to collective rights and regulation.

Neoliberal ambushes

With the Ukrainian government's stubborn liberalism even during the war, the need for strong trade unions has only grown over the period - and while Zelensky is popular, his government's policies are far from always so. One example is the cancellation of collective agreements in companies with up to 250 employees, the vast majority of firms in the country. The bill was introduced before the invasion, when it was about to be voted down in parliament.

After the invasion, it was reintroduced and this time passed, but only after protests and with the promise that it was a temporary arrangement during the war. Despite the simultaneous introduction of special laws making it impossible, for example, to demonstrate openly and take action during the state of emergency, there has been marked resentment against the series of proposals targeting workers' rights.

As Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation ITUC, put it: "It is grotesque that while Ukrainian workers are defending the country and caring for the wounded, sick and displaced, they are now being ambushed by their own parliament."

Strategic support for a strong labour movement from below in a free Ukraine

In addition to supporting trade union activity in the here and now - including political, trade union political and financial support in the form of fundraising - the Trade Union Ukraine Initiative also focuses on strategic solidarity with Ukrainian trade unionists in the reconstruction of the country after the enormous destruction of the war. While the big construction companies and international donor conferences are already planning the next steps, the trade union movement also needs to step up its game.

The Danish government is currently working on plans to rebuild the harbour city of Mykolayiv, which had 470,000 inhabitants before the invasion. Here there must be a special obligation for trade unions and others in Denmark to give maximum support to the local trade union and democratic forces, who must of course demand influence on the plans being made for their local area.

In short: Support the new trade union Ukraine initiative and help keep both employers and governments in line when building a new Ukraine!

Read more and sign here.

Executive Committee of Socialist Workers' Policy, 4 May 2023