One year ago, military forces of the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, launching an unprovoked and unnecessary war.
This war has cost thousands of lives and damaged Ukraine’s social and economic infrastructure, which will take years to rebuild. Russia’s attack on Ukraine is the direct cause of major food shortages and agricultural supply chain disruptions felt most painfully in lower-income countries. Yet, the citizens of Ukraine remain united in their resolve to defend their country, endure constant attacks on their civilian infrastructure, and struggle to keep supplies of grain and necessary goods flowing despite Russian restrictions.
Ukrainian workers and trade unions mobilized to become an integral part of the country’s home front. They not only keep the country’s civilian economy moving in areas like agriculture, railways, electrical utilities, education, health care and public administration, but they have also volunteered their time to meet the country’s humanitarian crisis. Ukrainian unions, including the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FPU) and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU), and a number of independent unions have converted union property into housing for internally displaced people, created supply chains for humanitarian aid and turned union halls and offices into community centers for those in need of assistance.
The Solidarity Center supports these union partners’ humanitarian work as well as their efforts to defend worker rights. Despite the difficulties of war, unions continue to support workers in all areas of the Ukrainian economy with organizing and bargaining support, education and legal assistance, and they continue to defend worker rights in democratic debate at all levels of governance in Ukraine. The staff of the Solidarity Center and its Ukrainian partner Labor Initiatives (LI) continue to assist Ukrainian unions and partners with technical assistance, training and legal aid. In addition, Solidarity Center and LI staff have joined in the humanitarian effort, helping to create the Trade Union Lifeline, a network of unions and activists working to move humanitarian aid to where it is needed the most. The resilience of Solidarity and LI staff, to continue working through the intense stress and violence of the war to forward the mission of the Solidarity Center and the international trade union movement, is notable and praiseworthy.
The Solidarity Center joins with the AFL-CIO in honoring the work of Ukrainian unions and working people and calling for end to the violent invasion of a sovereign nation and for peace, reconstruction and democracy in Ukraine and the region.