The Voice Of The Left Is The Voice Of The Working People

Sotsialnyi Rukh (Social Movement) Ukraine
May 10, 2022

A delegation of left-wing parliamentarians and politicians from European countries met with Ukrainian left-wing and trade union activists, as well as with representatives of civil society in Lviv.

On May 5 and 6, 2022, a two-day international conference of the European Network of Solidarity with Ukraine was held in Lviv with the support of the public organization Social Movement .

The international delegation included left-wing politicians, parliamentarians, trade unions, and journalists from Austria, Argentina, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Spain, Germany, Poland, Finland, France and Switzerland.

Among the European parliamentarians were: Paulina Matysiak, Member of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland Veronica Honkasalo , Member of the Eduskunta , Finland, Stephanie Prezioso , Member of the Swiss Federal Assembly , Søren Sonnergor , Member of the Danish Folketing Jean-Bapton (Switzerland). Lyon metropolitan Laurence Boffe (France), as well as a candidate in the two presidential elections in France Olivier Besançon .

Representing one of the most active left-wing organizations in solidarity with Ukraine, Workers' Liberty ,  Ruth Cashman of Britain's largest union, UNISON   , and Tom Harris , of the PCS Civil Service Union, spoke of practical support for their country's Ukrainian workers. In particular, as in March, the Liverpool and Kent unions said they would be more consistent than their conservative government in countering Putin's aggression against Ukraine and refused to unload Russian cargo ships. The Social Movement also published a video appeal by Ukrainian transport unions in response to a similar blockade of Russian cargo ships in Swedish ports:

The first day of the conference was devoted to reports on the impact of the war on the trade union and labor movement in Ukraine. Railway workers, builders, doctors, nuclear workers, miners, united by various unions, spoke about the heroic contribution of their colleagues to protect the country and help war victims, as well as new threats to workers in their industries.

The deputy chairmen of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine present at the conference noted that with the need to ensure the physical survival of their families, trade unions were forced to evacuate members of their unions. Trade unions help their members leave the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, and also spend union dues as direct financial assistance to those who cannot or do not want to move away from hostilities.

One of the most important and dangerous tasks of wartime - saving civilians and supplying vital goods - fell to transport workers. Activists  of the Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine  stated that the objective risks of being fired upon in the frontline territories were supplemented by processing at work due to elementary miscalculations of the railway management. Railway workers and their families have experienced a shortage of food and basic necessities.

"There are fired vehicles, the depots were completely destroyed, there are dead among the railway workers," said  Oleksandr Skyba  from VPZU .

However, state ownership of the entire railway proved to be the best: despite shelling of stations, depots, and railway infrastructure, more than 10 million internally displaced persons were evacuated very quickly from dangerous regions by rail.

Builders in hotspots have also faced war, and in peaceful cities, with the Martial Law Liberation Liberation Act 2136 , abuses by unscrupulous employers have the right to withhold wages and make it difficult to seek effective help.

"Some builders have not yet been paid their wage arrears since January. Employees complain about the lack of communication with management - the management does not answer phone calls, work chats are disabled "- according to  Vasyl Andreev , chairman of the  Trade Union of Builders of Ukraine.

The health care system was not ready for war, according to  Serhiy Kubansky  ( Kyiv City Trade Union of Health Care Workers ).

The medical reform launched in 2017 had a negative impact on Ukraine's pandemic preparedness: from February 2018 to December 2021, the health care system reduced costs and commercialized medicine through the principle of "money follows the patient", which did not provide adequate funding for medical institutions. Since 2017, the union has warned the government that this approach is wrong, as infection can come at any time. The situation is the same with the war: medical institutions were not ready to actively provide medical care to a large number of people, because the funds "follow the patient" and not in front of him. Some trade union requirements were taken into account: health care expenditures were set at no less than 5%. But from 2018 to 2022, no annual budget provided for this 5% of GDP for health care, instead, allocating almost half the amount, and the average level of medical salaries did not exceed UAH 15,000. With such an unsatisfactory level of funding, Ukrainian medicine has met a "hot" phase of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "

Russia's aggression has posed an immediate threat to the lives of health workers and terrorized those in the occupied territories, destroyed many medical facilities and their employees' homes, and made it impossible for courts to operate and protect labor rights.

The thesis about the unpreparedness of medical institutions for the war due to the reduction of doctors and the closure of hospitals is confirmed by  Olga Ivanchyna  ( Free Trade Union of Medical Workers of Ukraine):

“Hospitals lack places for our boys, there is a lack of medicines, food, and there is also a lack of staff: the psychologist who worked for us died in eastern Ukraine, and there is no one to replace her here. There are now both reductions and closures of medical institutions - we are entering into disputes with the administration, but the main priority for all of us is to help our husbands and our children in the East, as well as displaced persons. Of course, this requires a full salary and rest of nurses. We want to ask our European colleagues for help with financial pressure on Russia - we need to make the war unprofitable for Russia's elites. "

The war made it difficult to protect the rights of part-time workers, who were afraid to talk about their problems at work so as not to undermine their defense capabilities. However, we believe that the country's defense capabilities are undermined by violations of workers' rights, forcing people to look for some alternative means of income. Oksana Slobodyana  ( Lviv Regional Trade Union of Medical and Medical Workers and the  Be Like Nina Movement ) is convinced that the struggle at the local level, through publicity - including  through the Social Movement  - yields results:

"Physicians are seeking fairer decisions, canceling decisions to reduce staff. In Popasna, where the management of one medical institution left their jobs, depriving medical workers of their salaries, only after the media coverage did the doctors receive their payments. ”

Pavlo Oleshchuk  ( Atomprofspilka )  spoke about the situation in the exclusion zone - the area around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which was contaminated as a result of the 1986 accident. It employs specialists who monitor pollution, decontamination and specialized work on radioactive waste management, ensure the viability of the exclusion zone. As well as builders, drivers, staff serving canteens, dormitories and more. The road to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant now takes 5 hours because the bridges were destroyed.

"People work on a shift basis, so for a certain number of days they are in the exclusion zone (4/3 or 15/15). After the occupying forces left this area, they left our employees with completely destroyed office space, now there are no normal working and living conditions, which makes it difficult for them to perform their duties. The heating system was destroyed, the windows were broken, all the doors were broken, and the property was partially destroyed. The car fleet and much more were destroyed. Currently, members of the Atomic Trade Union from all over Ukraine are collecting humanitarian aid and sending it to Chernobyl, "Oleschuk said.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the satellite town of Slavutych were also under occupation, but have now been liberated and controlled by Ukraine. Troops guarding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant were taken prisoner by the invaders. They still have not returned home.

"An integral part of the work of nuclear power plants is the observance of safety culture - in peacetime the worker may not be allowed to work because he came to work tired, because the work requires constant concentration and readiness to take clear action under any circumstances. Even at the time of the capture of Europe's largest Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, when there was a battle near the checkpoint and ancillary buildings - no one left their jobs despite the noise and vibration of the shelling - ZNPP generated electricity, all systems operated in compliance with safety rules.

The deputy mayor of the occupied city of Energodar was abducted and his whereabouts are unknown at the time of writing. Peaceful demonstrations against the occupying forces are being dispersed with grenades and machine guns of the Russian military.

In the south-west of Energodar, across the Dnieper River, 60 km from the place where the fighting is going on right now - is Kryvyi Rih. Thousands of miners, members of the NPGU of Kryvyi Rih volunteered to defend Ukraine with weapons in their hands - according to  Yuri Samoilov  ( Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine ).

“The trade union has a responsibility to provide them with what neither the management nor the state provides for their employees. There is also a question with the humanitarian, because immigrants from the region come to Kryvyi Rih - we cooperate with the left, with trade unions in solving humanitarian and logistical problems. "

According to Vasyl Semkanych  and  Myroslava Kaftan  from  the Chervonohrad National Pedagogical University, they host mining families from the East and Western Ukraine   .

Søren Sönnergor , a member of the Danish Parliament from the Red Green Alliance  , is convinced that Europe's left-wing forces must condemn Russian aggression and demand the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops; The left must support the right of the Ukrainian people to self-defense with weapons that are capable of effective defense: “We must insist on comprehensive humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian men and women; we must accept all people who have been forced to become refugees and we must provide them with a dignified life. ”