Participants of All-Ukrainian Assembly of Chairs of Primary Trade Union Organisations, held on 30 November, required adoption of Memorandum for Social Progress that would complement the Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policy of International Monetary Fund in order to fight social dumping and confirm that fundamental social rights take precedence over economic benefits.

More than one thousand trade unionists representing workers of all sectors and regions came to the capital of Ukraine to conduct honest and frank dialogue on social inefficiency reforms, ineffective actions to stabilise the economy on the eve of the Government’s reporting in Parliament. However, to participate in this open dialogue only Deputy Minister of Social Policy Viktor Ivankevych, Deputy Head of Presidential Administration of Ukraine on administrative, social and economic reforms Dmitro Shymkiv, Head of Department of Presidential Administration on humanitarian policy Yurii Ruban attended the Government side. All other ignored the invitation.

This is not the first time that officials are hiding from the workers’ representatives, stressed speakers. No one minister attended congresses of all-Ukrainian trade unions. Perhaps they are not interested in how are labour collectives and how people survive.

The main issues of the event are tasks of Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine on protection of social and economic rights and interests of trade union members in terms of reforms and European integration, and determining tactics of trade unions at the current stage and prospects of modernisation of trade union activity.

Addressing the Assembly, FPU President Grygorii Osovyi stressed that such large forum of trade union leaders of primary trade union organisations and national trade union leaders, trade union associations is held for the first time in these years.

‘It is extremely important today, because life puts before us so sharp and scaling issues when only position of high elected bodies is not enough to make decisions that await our movement’s members, said the trade union leader.

First Vice-President of Federation of Employers of Ukraine Oleksii Miroshnychenko addressed the delegates from the employers’ side.

Participants and guests stressed in their speeches that today’s antisocial austerity policy led to catastrophic fall in value of labour and poverty. The most painful is the issue of employment. Within eighteen months of this Government more than 2 million jobs were lost, any employment programme for ‘refugees’ from the east was not developed, the Employment Promotion and New Jobs Creation Programme has been not implemented.

It was noted in speeches that the authorities’ priority should be job creation and pay reform based on ensuring its profitability and social prestige. However, trade unions are strongly against narrowing labour rights and will fight against violations of international law and national legislation in the workplace. The Government should finally fill the budget through eliminating practice of tax evasion and fraud in the so-called informal economy, as well as through real fight against corruption and embezzlement.

Speakers emphasised that in these difficult social and economic conditions the Government, Prime Minister Arsenii Yatsenyuk initiated numerous anti-social and anti-labour decisions, ignored numerous proposals of trade unions on alternative resolution of acute social problems.

It was also said that officials actually transformed the social dialogue into props. The Government does not see and hear trade unions. The main institution of social dialogue – the National Tripartite Social and Economic Council – lost influence in shaping economic and social policies. Its decisions are not systemic in nature and are not implemented.

The General Agreement for another term is not signed yet because of the Government party opposition to ensure implementation of constitutional labour guarantees. A number of large sectors of the economy lack sectoral collective agreements. Tripartite government bodies of the Social Insurance Funds are paralysed by acts or inactivity of the Government representatives.

It was noted that with decentralization of power the Government trying to hold radical decentralisation of collective bargaining aimed at weakening the role of collective bargaining at all levels. It was stressed that collective agreements, which are beyond a particular enterprise or company, is a unique institutional feature of the European social model. In the countries and regions where collective bargaining dominate at the level of enterprise or company, conditions of employment and work are enshrined in collective agreements for only minority of workers.

National collective labour dispute of trade unions with the Government, mass protests, many picketing of the Cabinet of Ministers had only a partial result. The life of Ukrainians continues to deteriorate. The Government fenced off dialogue with trade unions and employers, those who represent creators of gross national product. Behind the scenes work on the majority of reforms, particularly in the areas of employment, tax, pension, social insurance and the draft State Budget is evidence of concealment by the Government of new antisocial intentions from the social dialogue parties and society.

The Assembly adopted as the basis the Resolution with demands to the Parliament, President and Government. Final version of the Resolution will be published as soon as participants’ comments and amendments have been updated.