Ukraine Labour law reform campaign

We are collecting signatures for the following open letter. Please write to info@ukraine-solidarity.eu.

Signatures so far include Pierre-Yves Mallard, President of Union Syndicale Suisse (USS), Switzerland’s biggest labour grouping.

Expressing our sincere solidarity with the people of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, we, as members of European and global trade unions, call on the members of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to reject the controversial draft Bill No. 5371 at the second hearing.

The draft Law "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts to Simplify the Regulation of Labor Relations in Small and Medium Enterprises and Reduce the Administrative Burden on Entrepreneurship" was approved in first reading by the Ukrainian Parliament on May 12.

We’re concerned that the possible adoption of this bill on the so-called simplification of the regulation of labor relations will result in effective abolition of important labor rights and some of the very last protections safeguarding workers against the arbitrary actions of employers, cases of which have become more frequent in times of war and economic downturn.

If this legislation is passed, a new chapter III-B entitled "Contractual regime regulating labor relations" will be added to the Labor Code of Ukraine allowing to contractually curtail the workers' rights at enterprises employing up to 250 workers, in other words the rights of the vast majority of employees. For workers, the "contractual regime" will mean arbitrary dismissals, overtime work under spurious grounds, or rescheduling annual leaves without their consent. It will also jeopardize workers’ possibilities to unionize and to defend their rights via trade unions.

Under current circumstances, the adoption of this text, which was strongly criticized by both Ukrainian and international trade unions, would aggravate social inequality and hamper social dialogue. Furthermore, it may also undermine Ukraine's prospects for European integration.

The Parliamentary Committee on Ukraine's Integration into the EU has found the content of the Bill to be inconsistent with the European Union Association Agreement and the conventions of the International Labor Organization. The Bill does not meet a number of provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the European Social Charter (revised), the EU Directive 2003/88/EU and other European Union regulations as well as of standards stipulated by the ILO Conventions No. 30, No. 132, No. 135, No. 158, No. 166, and even by the Convention No. 1 (1919) on the limitation of working hours in industrial enterprises to 8 hours a day and 48 hours a week.

We hope that Ukrainian legislators will consider the already precarious situation of workers in Ukraine, disapprove the draft Law No. 5371, and opt for better solutions that ensure sustainable economic growth, in particular through higher wages, reliable job protection and employee participation in business management. This will ease the burden on millions of Ukrainians already affected by the brutal Russian invasion and thus strengthen the prospects of Ukrainian victory.

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