PAVEL LISYANSKY, founder of the Eastern Human Rights Group and lawyer for workers in eastern Ukraine, gives his view in this guest post of efforts to strengthen the labour movement at a time of military conflict and attacks on workers’ rights.
In 2015 breaches of Ukrainians’ social, economic and labour rights are becoming sharper and sharper. Politicians from oligarchic clans have started shouting about a social and economic revolution. And really, we have had two political revolutions – the “Orange revolution” [of 2004] and the “revolution of dignity” [of 2014] – but there has been no social and economic revolution.
In Ukraine there is a huge potential for protest, due to the widespread breaches of labour rights. There is a great need for new trade union and working-class organisations. Since Soviet times the trade union movement
has not modernised itself. Trade unions have remained as they were: “distributors of holiday vouchers” and “lobbyists for the employers” in workplace collectives. [Translator’s note. During the Soviet period, up to 1991, workplace trade union organisations functioned as a branch of management, ensuring collaboration with labour discipline. Workers appreciated them only for distributing vouchers for holiday trips and canteen meals, and other minor benefits.]
So far, the grass-roots trade union organisations are not numerous, and can not offer the sort of resistance to the oligarchs that is needed.
And there is an attack on workers’ rights along all fronts: the adoption of a Read the rest of this entry »