Railway Workers are on Picketing at the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine

Today, 16 January 2013 around four hundred railway employees – members of the Free Trade Union of Railway Workers (FTURWU) with support of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) gathered at the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine demanding that the Ukrainian Railway administration to “open their eyes” on the violations of labor rights and social & economic guarantees of workers in the railway industry.

Young train conductor Yana Voichenko said during the picketing: “they insist on a very high responsibility from us but working conditions are humiliating… With 2500 Hryvnas ($315) salary per month the administration doesn’t even cover our public transport expenses to get to work. Also with reduction of staff and the unscheduled working shifts make, in fact, the trains’ workers live in trains.

Tired and exhausted engine drivers may involuntarily jeopardize the lives of passengers”. Among the demands of the picketers were: raising salaries in accordance with the General Agreement, stopping reduction of employees, reimbursing salary debts for the year 2012, improving working conditions with regard to normal working hours and developing provisions “About working hours and rest periods for separate categories of railway workers”.

During the picketing an initiative group (Led by Volodymyr Kozelskiy, Head of FTURWU) was formed and admitted to the Cabinet of Ministers for negotiations. According to Mr. Kozelsky the following agreement was reached at the meeting: the salaries will increase by 15,8% till the end of the year starting from April 2013. Also two working groups were formed representing trade unions, Ukrainian Railway management and the Government to regulate and work-out solutions to the demands of the railway workers. Along with that the Cabinet of Ministers’ representatives promised to allocate 3 mln hryvnas ($370370) for a research on working conditions of engine drivers.

“If the voices of the railway workers are not heard by Railway administration and the government we’ll carry out co-called Italian strike”, - noted Mr. Kozelsky before the Railway administration.