In the February 2009 issue of its International News Bulletin, the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine reports on the election of Svetlana Kozakova to the groundbreaking position of Women’s Section National Organizer; picketings and strikes by metro, factory, and auto workers over unpaid wages; and new leaders and members in the medical workers union.
Women represent the fastest growing segment of the free trade union movement in Ukraine, and the CFTUU Women’s Section is a leading voice for the rights of women on the job. Kozakova, who came out of CFTUU President Mikhail Volynets’s Independent Trade Union of Miners, has years of experience with helping women form workplace committees in mining facilities, schools, and hospitals. She will continue these activities on a national level. Through education programs, she will encourage women to become union and community leaders and establish coalitions with like-minded organizations.
As a result of the global economic crisis, wage arrears are growing throughout Ukraine. When the Kyiv metro company ignored its contractual obligation to raise salaries despite a fourfold fare increase, more than 100 metro workers picketed outside headquarters. According to the union’s collective bargaining agreement, the workers are entitled to a 25 percent raise plus another 10 percent if fares increase. In Kherson, some 1,500 workers in an agricultural machinery plant stormed the main offices and began a round-the-clock sit-in. The workers have not been paid since October 2008 and risk losing their jobs. More than 200 have joined the CFTUU and are registering as a new independent local union.
Delegates at the January 29 Independent Trade Union of Medical Workers Congress unanimously elected Oleg Pasanenko as chairman. Under Pasanenko’s leadership, the union’s top priority is membership growth. In Lviv, workers formed unions at two hospitals, and the new ITUMW vice-president (one of three) represents a 2,000-member nurses association that is in the process of registering as a union, which will then affiliate with the CFTUU. On May 1, the ITUMW and the Independent Trade Union of Teachers will kick off a joint organizing and petition campaign.
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