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20 February - International Day of Social Justice in Ukraine

26 February 2013: SOCIAL JUSTICE: DECENT WORK AND SOCIAL PROTECTION Under this slogan the International Conference within the framework of the Day for Social Justice hosted by the FPU, Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine and Regional Bureau of Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Ukraine and Belarus was held on February 19 at the Trade Union House.

The event was attended by the FPU President Iurii Kulyk, leaders of sectoral and regional trade unions of Ukraine, Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine Nataliia Korolevska, Chairman of Social Policy and Labour Committee of Parliament of Ukraine Petro Tsybenko, ILO National Coordinator in Ukraine Vasyl Kostrytsia, Vice-President of Federation of Employers of Ukraine Oleksii Miroshnichenko, Head of Regional Bureau of Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Ukraine and Belarus Ursula Koch-Laugwitz, Acting UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine Olena Panova and many others.

Among main issues discussed by participants of the Conference were: ‘How do you understand social justice?’, ‘Do you recognize importance and priority of social development and what priority targets do you see?’, ‘How important is consolidation of efforts of the parties of social dialogue to practical achievements in overcoming social injustice?’

‘This year, on February 20, Ukraine marked the second Day of Social Justice initiated in our country last year on the initiative of the FPU and introduced by the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych’, said the FPU President Iurii Kulyk. Our country is the first post-Soviet space country which introduced this Day at the national level. According to trade unions our main task is social and economic protection of working people, public control over observance of labour law and social justice. Unfortunately, the principle of social justice is not provided in Ukraine neither in pay, nor taxation or social protection. Trade unions prepared a list of issues that have elements of social injustice and need to be regulated. The situation with pay is, in particular, among them. It can not satisfy trade unions. Among the causes, that produce workers’ low wages being in the zone of influence and responsibility of the state, are law national pay standards, particularly low minimum wage which is 1,147 hryvnias as 1 January 2013. But the worker needs today at least 2,000 hryvnias in order to subsist.

Iurii Kulyk informed that the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine and trade union JRB submitted to the President of Ukraine and Prime Minister of Ukraine a set of proposals on wage system and pension system reforms, and equal rights to achieve social justice. Talking about the important role in solving problems of social justice, social dialogue, Iurii Kulyk said: ‘Social dialogue between the Government, trade unions and employers rose to a new level. This is evidenced by our regular meetings and consultations. The National Tripartite Social and Economic Council resumed its work. We have good relationship and we are completely satisfied. I must say frankly that we agree not at all the positions, in particular, with some points of the General Agreement, but only in organizational terms, this issue has been already discussed.’

‘Social justice is actually one of the most important issues,’ the Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine Nataliia Korolevska said. I believe that social justice means, first of all, decent work, social protection, confidence in the future and decent wages. The pay issue is a very sensitive one in the country.’

Nataliia Korolevska thanked the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine for fruitful cooperation, in particular, organization of the event. She said that the Ministry of Social Policy intends to equalize the minimum wage and the subsistence level by the end of 2014. At the same time, she noted that this would be difficult, but certain steps towards this Ministry of Social Policy is doing now while hoping for help and understanding of the Federation of Employers in this process.

The Minister also said that a draft resolution on preservation of acceptable difference between the minimum wage and the first tariff rate had been already developed. ‘We have prepared a draft decree to save the delta between the minimum wage and the first tariff rate that we achieved in December 2012’, she said. I really hope that it will be adopted at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine the Day of Social Justice February 20.’ However, she noted that despite the best efforts of Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Finance could deny due to lack of funds.
In their speeches the Vice-President of Federation of Employers of Ukraine Oleksii Miroshnichenko, MP, Chairman of Social Policy and Labour Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Petro Tsybenko, ILO National Coordinator in Ukraine Vasyl Kostrytsia, FPU Vice-Presidenta Grygorii Osovyi and Sergii Kondriuk talked about the need to consolidate efforts of the Government, trade unions and business in order to address the issues of social justice in all spheres of social and economic development of the country.

During the discussions, the participants concluded that Ukraine is still too much injustice, which inhibits the development of the state, creates dissatisfaction of citizens and conflict. Among the major sectors of social injustices conference participants highlighted: artificially lowered level of social standards and guarantees - living wage, minimum wage, pensions, state benefits, non-compliance with the Law of Ukraine "On Living Wage" low pay, manual management of social benefits, imperfect tax system.

The participants noted that the wages of about 4 million public sector workers were extremely low. Their pay is based on the Unified Tariff Plan which offsets skilled labour in the public sector. In order to ensure implementation in Ukraine of foundations of modern social state the Government agencies, parties of social dialogue must strictly follow the principle of social justice during large social and economic reforms, while meeting strategic goals in order to bring Ukraine closer to the most developed democratic countries.

In order to draw public attention to the problems of social and economic and labour spheres, which is impossible without building of society of social justice in Ukraine, the participants appealed to the President of Ukraine, Parliament of Ukraine, Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and other central executive authorities with concrete proposals on solving pressing problems of the society.

The FPU President Iurii Kulyk, Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine Nataliia Korolevska and Vice-President of Federation of Employers of Ukraine Oleksii Miroshnichenko signed the Declaration of Social Justice. During the press briefing which held within the framework of the International Conference they responded to numerous questions of the media.

this article has been tagged

New Independent States , Social protection , Decent Work , Economic reforms , FES , Tackling inequalities , Democracy and Social Dialog , Ukraine
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