In Ukraine, launched an unexpected reform: want to resolve the strike

The trade Union sanatoriums and hotels want to sell and to oblige the trade unions to deal with issues of raising wages

How many of us know, what do the unions? How many people can say that they have received any benefits or advantages from membership in the Union? In a recent study conducted by the National Institute for strategic studies, says that more than half of Ukrainians – 57.7 per cent – do not trust the trade unions (trust 23.1 per cent). And also that the majority of Ukrainians do not even consider the trade unions as a tool to protect their own interests in interaction with employers. And this distrust (along with labour migration) is one of the reasons for the decline in Union members in recent years.

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At the same time, in Western countries the trade unions is a serious and influential social force. “The formation of powerful unions, able to effectively protect the interests of employees is an essential attribute of a civilized state. Unions are the most active social force in ensuring favourable conditions of work, full and productive employment of their members, their guests, decent social protection, combat and prevent all forms of discrimination in work and pay”, – said in a research note on the results of the study.

Today, Ukraine is preparing a major reform of the trade unions. This was told at a meeting with journalists the head of the parliamentary Committee on social policy and protection of the rights of veterans Galina Tretyakov.

This reform is intended as one component of reforms in the social sphere. Innovations that relate to trade unions, should help solve several important social issues. For example, to reorganize the social insurance funds. To conduct an audit of property of trade unions (hotels, resorts etc.). And, in principle, to refocus the work of the trade unions that they are not only handed out vouchers to the most vulnerable workers, but also began to protect the interests of all workers to employers, as is done abroad. Including organizing strikes. To society has started a social dialogue between employers and trade unions on wages and social benefits for employees. And this is not a complete list of innovations that can bring the reform of trade unions.

“The objective of these innovations is to streamline a system that was created in order to protect us as employees. This system is, unfortunately, not very sincerely and very effectively protected us all these years,” – explains Galina Tretyakov, one of the initiators of the reform.

The Verkhovna Rada has already registered 7 bills relating to the reform of the trade Union movement. Some of them have already been considered in the first reading, others are in negotiation or discussion. But all these projects share one thing: the trade unions are totally opposed to each of them and generally against reform in the form in which it was conceived. The website “Today” I understood that it intends to change the government and why the unions are against it.

What are the unions worthy to speak on behalf of workers

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Probably few know that one of the important functions of trade unions – participation in the management of social insurance funds. Decisions relating to funds of social insurance Fund on temporary loss of working capacity (from which you paid sick, maternity, etc.), insurance Fund for unemployment (because it is paid unemployment assistance) and the Fund against accidents at the workplace, are today accepted by the Board of these funds, which includes on an equal footing (an equal number from each party) representatives of trade unions, employers ‘ organizations and government. Also trade Union representatives participate in the meetings of the Cabinet on behalf of working people.

But not every Union and every employer can participate in the management of these funds and in government meetings. To get access, the trade Union or employers ‘ organization must obtain the status of “representative”. Since 2012, this status assigns the national service of mediation and reconciliation – NSAIDs (which is also probably very few people heard).

“Those who show the greatest number of people will receive this status. And received the status will manage the two funds and, in addition, will take part in the adoption of legislative acts and actually monopolisitic relationship with the government in a dialogue about the adoption of normative-legal acts… we have a lot of young unions that really defend the interests of employees, and they are in the process of social dialogue can’t log in”, – says Galina Tretyakov.

According to the authorities, the number of trade Union members in Ukraine may be overstated.

“How many people are in unions? I asked three times and three times they gave me different numbers. According to the last digit, the trade unions say that the Executive side of the unions include around 4 million employees. I think it inflated the value. The European practice of unionization of employees is falling and is now somewhere at the level of 19-20%. If we really have 4 million together with trade unions, it turns out that up to 40% of the workforce. We have a total of about 10.5 million work as employees and 1.7 million – FLP or SPD”, – says Galina Tretyakov.

Bill No. 2332 proposes to transfer the right to establish the representativeness of the Ministry of justice of Ukraine, because, as they say in the explanatory note to the bill, “NAFP does not have the tools and authority to carry out the check according to the criteria of representativeness”. At the same time, the Ministry of justice due to its registers and local units can do this almost automatically, the document says.

Galina Tretyakov does not hide: it is only the first step in reforming the system.

“I’d really like to have some time later there was a bill that representativeness was determined, as does Denmark. They think how much the social contributions paid by the members of trade unions or the employers, the top three or five leaders become representative. If reorganization took place and someone has become larger, automatically there is a change of representation. Transfer of functions to Ministry of justice – the first step to such a system,” she says.

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Union representatives, however, believe that NSAIDs is an independent organisation and independence of justice in doubt.

“We are not afraid of the passage of representativeness. The main thing that it was happening objectively, on the basis of criteria recognized not only in Ukraine but also in the world. We believe that to determine representativeness must be an independent body, not one of the ministries, which are the structures of Executive power. And after the transfer of this function to Ministry of justice can be biased and attempts to falsify the results of representativeness”, – says the head of one of the recognised representative unions – the Chairman of Federation of trade unions of Ukraine Grigory Kosovo.

Grigory Kosovo also considers that it is necessary to intensify National social and economic Council – another obscure a wide range of Ukrainians authority, which, as the national service of mediation and reconciliation, to address issues related to work and social benefits (social dialogue), and which also includes much of the same trade unions, employers and the government.

Another “trade-Union” bill No. 3204, according to Galina Tretyakova, eliminates existing discrimination against new and small trade unions.

“This bill will allow to involve in the drafting of the social contract small unions. When a team begins to flake, people can join different trade unions. Today small, young trade unions cannot log-in procedure of concluding a collective agreement, can not achieve higher salaries or more vacation, additional benefits. This bill eliminates this monopoly and allowing small trade unions to enter into this movement”, – says Galina Tretyakov.

Who pays the “Piper calls the tune”

Two bills from the “Union” of the package offered to change the aspect ratio in the management of funds of social insurance, strengthening the position of the government. As already mentioned, now the control is on an equal footing. The Board comprises 7 representatives of trade unions, employers and the government. Bill No. 2275 proposes that the Board of the Fund of obligatory state insurance (where a pooled Fund for the disability and insurance Fund against accidents at work) consisted of 10 government representatives and 4 representatives of trade unions and employers ‘ organizations. Bill No. 3115 suggests that in the Board of unemployment assistance consisted of 8 representatives from the state and 3 members from insured persons and employers.

The logic of the initiators of such changes is simple: because the state is now more than half subsidizes the social insurance funds, and the right to vote must remain with him.

“To Finance the expenditures for all three funds, unemployment, social insurance and Pension, you need to have more money than we collect. That is to cover all costs at the expense of the single social contribution is impossible. This means that the insurance system in Ukraine is not working. And before the Cabinet is artificially redistributed funds, making the Pension Fund is unprofitable, and the social security funds and unemployment insurance – surplus. And so it is impossible to share. The share of subsidies from the state budget to these funds accounted in recent years from 42% to 109%,” – says Galina Tretyakov.

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In the framework of social reform, the government intends to reorganize the social insurance funds, creating a single National insurance Agency (see diagram below).

“We need to start with a Fund of obligatory social insurance and to control the reorganization process, the transition to the formation of public Finance, control and accounting according to civilized European standards. But in order to do this reorganization, we need people in these funds were ready for transformation processes like this. Yet we don’t see it. The government, granting from the state budget and the amount of such subsidies, now has a smaller part than the others who manage this Fund,” – explains Galina Tretyakov.

The bills mentioned also proposes to give the Cabinet the authority to appoint the head of the Executive Directorate of the Fund. And yet, to oblige the leadership of the social insurance Fund and its units to submit declarations, as is done now all civil servants. Since the Fund manages significant amounts of money – 29 billion UAH.

The unions oppose the violation of parity.

“They actually propose to weaken the representation of two sides: those who pay contributions and those who must obtain insurance payments, rather, to control the insurance payment. Now the Fund is administered on a parity basis. And this is more or less balanced structure, because there is a conflict of interest. And they want to monopolize decision making in these social insurance funds. That is, funds that are established for employees covered under the autocratic control of the state. Why is that bad? And you trust that the purity the use of budget funds will be provided at the mass corruption that takes place in the country? We cannot be certain,” says Grigory Kosovo.

The insurance funds will equate to a budget

Bill No. 2743 proposes to include the proceeds from the payment of ERUs to the state budget. The meaning of these changes explains the very name of the bill “On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine on efficient use of means of social insurance”. According to estimates, we are talking about the sum of about 29 billion UAH. Now these money is transferred directly to the social insurance funds and are not subject to mechanisms of control and accounting envisaged for the budget. The bill, in particular, proposes to give the chamber the authority to conduct financial audit and audit of efficiency of use of funds for social and pension insurance.

“When the budget is adopted, we have, for example, there are no such indices as the wage Fund of the entire country. Today in the budget we see only the line “subsidies to the Pension Fund.” And from the size of the wage Fund is derived 22% of ERUs. And it is impossible to understand how much money will be in the social security system and how much we can pay for existing obligations. These calculations we have available. Although they have in any European country. And if we declared the path to Europe, we would have to restore order in these finances,” says Galina Tretyakov.

In addition, the MP believes that today the movement of the insurance money is not enough controlled.

“Without resolution of the Verkhovna Rada, we were unable to enter the audit into these funds, and such audit is not systematic. Equating this money to the budget will lead to the fact that the deputies finally will see in the adoption of the Budget code a separate line in the budget Fund of obligatory social insurance”, – says Galina Tretyakov.

The unions are opposed to the inclusion of SSC in the budget.

“If these funds will go to the state budget, we don’t find then their insurance payments. We are against the nationalization of the means intended intended for insurance professionals. We want any public money went to those for whom they are intended. This is the principled position of the trade unions, and then we do not contradict each other. Nor on the grounds of the social insurance Fund, nor to debate that take place on the grounds of parliamentary committees or in negotiations with the government. But to include insurance funds into a common pot of the state budget… Where is the guarantee that tomorrow the President or the government does not give a command to transfer these funds to the construction of a bridge, because it fell during the flood? Or somewhere the road had to be patched or something? And then the people will suffer, were those contributions for which the employer deducted these contributions. In Soviet times we had no social insurance were unified state budget, and the state fully assumed the function of accumulation of taxes, and then from these taxes was the payoff for all needs, including retirement insurance. We went on the European path, in 2000, we had established a system of compulsory state insurance. And now we want a Soviet system to come back?” – says Gregory Kosovo.

As regards financial control, the head of the Federation of trade unions proposes to entrust this function to the unions.

“Why not entrust the audit of public control, which, in fact, is for trade unions? Why eliminate this monitoring function on the part of representatives of insured persons? Unions are the representatives of the insured persons”, – says Grigory Kosovo.

The trade Union sanatoriums and hotels want to count and maybe to sell

Bill No. 2681 will significantly change the financial situation of the trade unions. Firstly, it is proposed to abolish compulsory funding of unions in the amount of 0.3% of payroll. It is connected with plans of the authorities to step up the creation of a new, young and a few trade unions. If for each of them, the employer will deduct 0.3% of payroll, together this may significantly increase the tax burden on him.

Secondly, it is planned to conduct an audit of the assets of the trade unions, primarily real estate. In addition, the bill proposes to take away from trade unions a number of powers. For example, the right to inspect establishments of the service, to check the accounts of pay, check Bank account of the company in case of delay of payment of wages etc. are Also reduced individual guarantees for employees elected to trade Union bodies, and the obligations of employers to trade unions create conditions for their activities.

“This is perhaps the most famous in the trade unions bill. It involves the restitution of property that was transferred to the trade Union movement in 1960. On the website of the Verkhovna Rada is the order of the Ministry of health of the USSR, according to which more than 4,000 objects were transferred to the management of the all. Not in the property, pay attention, and in control. No one has ever done a full audit or inventory of the property. The state property Fund was the intention to make such an inventory, but it did not take place. And over the years 4000 objects turned into 2000. There were two joint – stock company “Ukrprofzdravnitsa” and “Ukrproftur” that the property was transferred to the possession of internal documents of the Federation of trade unions of Ukraine. And partly the property was generally transferred to the private sector. According to expert estimates, the value of this property is estimated at $ 2 billion. This is the hotel “Tourist” in every city, the House of trade unions on independence square, sanatorium-resort complexes, including the complex “Kuyalnik”, in respect of which is the fight against the seizure and transfer the property to someone. Everything is state property. And this means that privatizing this property, returning the property of the state property Fund, we can get 2 billion dollars additional revenue in the state budget, if we sell these systems. Without asking for loans to the IMF, the EBRD. We have the property there, it just has structure, which does not have a right to it”, – says Galina Tretyakov.

The representatives of the trade Union movement do not agree with any such reform, nor with the wording.

“Why should they interfere in the property of public organizations, which we do since the days of the Soviet system? The unions are the owners of this property. We have acts of ownership. And in 1997, we passed all the judicial chain, from primary level right up to the Supreme arbitration court and the Supreme court, which recognized that two AO – “Ukrproftour” and “Ukrprofzdravnitsa” is a legally established business entities, property of which belongs to trade unions. On what basis it is alleged that we unlawfully possess, if we have certificates on the property right? This is speculation, and we’ll deny it. If necessary – in the courts,” says Grigory Kosovo.

In addition, trade unions are dissatisfied with the prospects of the abolition of contributions by employer 0.3 percent.

“What is this burden on the employer is 0.3%? Once he had 42% of the burden on social insurance. From 2015, the amount of expenses on social insurance decreased from almost 42% to 22%. So, the business is now trading 0.3 percent?” – asks a rhetorical question Gregory Kosovo.

In Ukraine, want to introduce the practice of strikes and lockouts

Bill No. 2682 aims to provide such conditions that they could , without state intervention, and with the help of unions to achieve higher wages and better working conditions. From the legal field, it is proposed to remove procedure of collective labour dispute (conflict), and instead enter the strike procedure. In particular, to allow transport workers to go on strike – that Ukraine have brought before the European court of human rights.

“To the level of wages was what satisfied employees, unions and employers must agree among themselves. Not with the government, and each other. In a civilized country, if the unions can’t meet their conditions, they will organize strikes. The strike force is a mechanism of pressure on the employer. Stress: not the government, not Parliament, not the President’s Office because these bodies are not employers, and the Cabinet is not the only employer in the country. We have long been living in market conditions, and employers in the private sector a lot. We will amend the laws of Ukraine, and about 20 of them, giving the unions the right to strike in the 21st industry, where today they are banned,” – explains the idea of the bill Galina Tretyakov.

Today in Ukraine strikes not held at all. On the one hand, according to Galina Tretyakova, this is due to the deliberately complicated legislation, which forces them to warn about the strike for almost three months. And with another – absence in Ukraine of the practice of strike funds.

“When the team is on strike, someone on this team needs to ensure that wage compensation. Usually such payments are due to the strike funds. And strike funds generated by 1%, which donates to the trade Union movement each employee included in the Union. Because if the strike Fund, the strike is doomed to failure, because people need wages. Unfortunately, we have not practiced,” says the head of the Committee on social policy.

The unions objected to this bill. However, appealing to the new provisions on strikes and lockouts.

“The adoption of a law that would guarantee dynamic use of the tool of struggle for workers’ rights, like the strike, is urgent and necessary. But what we have in the end? Yes, the first part says that strikes can be held. But at the same time, as opposed to the strikes, this bill gives the right to employers to declare a lockout, which will stop the operation of the enterprise and in fact to deprive people of work and wages,” explains Grigory Kosovo.

Today trying to defend their rights the wage-workers, see story: