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18 Nov 2021

Ukraine: Labour liberalisation reform sponsored by UK can severely reduce workers' rights, experts warn

According to leaked documents, since September 2020 the UK government through the British Foreign Office, the UK Aid and the UK embassy in Kyiv has funded and advised on the drafts of new Ukrainian labour legislation (draft laws 5388 and 5371), which aims for a partial liberalization of labour law.

If adopted, Ukrainian labour legislation will undergo significant changes, among which, prevalence of individual contracts; weakening of the influence of trade unions (including the removal of a provision requiring approval from trade unions to fire an employee). Critics argue this will lead to strengthening of employers and oligarchs and weakening of the voice of employees.

ILO has already criticized Ulraine’s labour legislation path and has mentioned that it contradicts EU Directives on workplace law and ILO conventions, including the one on the right to organise (1949). The European Commission has also joined the critics.

First attempts to change labour law took place in early 2020. Then Ukrainian trade unions organized public opposition to the proposed reforms that led to withdrawal of the draft laws.