A number of Ukrainian trade unions, including the national union of nuclear plant workers, have donated portions of their salaries to Ukrainian aid and defense charities. In the first 10 days of the war, these trade union salary donations amounted to nearly $500,000.
One of the largest private-sector unions in Ukraine, the trade union of Nova Poshta (a shipping and logistics firm with operations also in Europe and the United States), conducted national and international fundraising to support its members displaced and in need, as well as the families of volunteers for Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces. In the first week of the war, the Nova Poshta trade union collected 795,000 hryvnia (about $27,000) for member assistance. In the first few days of outreach, 118 internally displaced people and refugees received aid, as did 45 families of members who were mobilized. The union expects this aid effort to grow quickly in the weeks ahead.
The Nova Poshta union, founded in 2015, signed its first collective bargaining agreement in 2016. Its pre-war membership was approximately 14,000 workers, and the collective agreement covers 27,000 employees.
The union’s work is in addition to that of the company, which is delivering humanitarian assistance from around the world to locations where it is needed most in Ukraine.
Although the Nova Poshta union is particularly active in solidarity support, many others are also assisting members during this crisis. These include fundraising and mutual aid efforts by the Union of Metal and Mining Workers, which has contributed over $35,000 to support families of mobilized soldiers.
Here’s How You Can Help
You can help Ukraine’s workers and their families by donating to the ITUC’s emergency fundraising appeal. The ITUC’s Ukrainian member organizations, FPU and KVPU, are providing support to families who desperately need assistance with food and water, medical supplies and hygiene items. Donate here.
You can also support these organizations also providing emergency assistance to people under bombardment or seeking refuge from the war:
A year ago, 112 garment workers were killed in a fire at the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory—and a thousand others were injured in the scramble to escape a building with no fire escapes and firmly barred windows.
On April 24, 2012, more than 1,200 garment workers were killed when the multistory Rana Plaza building pancaked in, crushing workers in five factories located in the building.
If these workers, nearly all young women, had been in unions, it’s likely these tragedies could have been prevented.
These disasters—and many more smaller, little-reported workplace tragedies—are why Bangladeshi garment workers are literally organizing for their lives.
Because of the international attention these disasters sparked, workers now can register their unions.
But they are facing intense employer resistance—including physical attacks, threats and termination—and some of these young leaders could benefit from hearing from experienced trade unionists that the fight for a union is worth the struggle.
The workers would be strengthened by international support, knowing they are not alone. To send them a messae of solidarity, please use the sample letter below or write one of your own. Send the completed letter to [email protected] and let these workers know that you stand with them. The Solidarity Center, which has worked for 20 years to help Bangladeshi garment workers gain a voice on the job, will translate and distribute the letter to its union partners, and your message will reach the workers who need to hear it the most.
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
As fellow trade unionists, we are writing in solidarity to commend your bravery and to encourage you to stand together in the face of employer resistance.
Since the tragic Tazreen factory fire in November 2012, you have made great progress in your efforts to organize. Even though ready-made-garment factory owners and the Bangladesh government have placed hurdles and difficulties in your path, you have persevered.
As union members, we know what this struggle is like. We know how hard employers fight to keep the union out, going as far as harassing and firing activists and leaders. Employers will try and turn you against one another.
We know from experience the struggle is worth the difficult journey—the union is the best way for workers to stand up for their rights.
Keep up your amazing effort and find strength in each other. Do not give up! We are with you!