What awaits social dialogue in Ukraine in the context of the Association Agreement with the EU?

The last week was very rich on events that have become important for the development of social dialogue in Ukraine. The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement requires changes in the approaches to the interaction of trade unions, employers, civil society organizations and the state in solving socio-economic problems of the country. The EU-Ukraine National Civil Society Platform was established on November 7, in accordance with Articles 469-470 of the Association Agreement. Within the framework of the Platform, the Working Group on "Employment, labor rights, safe and healthy working conditions, social policy" was created. About one hundred civil society organizations, including major trade unions and employers' organizations, joined the group. The competence of the working group includes: searching for the best ways to implement the Association Agreement in the social sphere and in the field of social dialogue, Ukraine's ratification of the European Social Charter and the search for new social mechanisms.
Unfortunately, in the strategic documents that are being drafted in Ukraine at the state level, and not in the Presidential Strategy 2020, and not in the Coalition Agreement, social dialogue is generally not taken into account as an instrument for solving the acute social problems of society. Therefore, the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement remains the only strategic document that envisages the reform of the social dialogue. The agreement indicates how unions, employers' organizations and non-governmental organizations can unite in order to implement the European principles of social dialogue.

The round table "Social Dialogue in the Context of Signing the Association Agreement with the EU in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia", held on November 14 in Kyiv, has become an important step towards reforming the social partnership in line with European standards. The event was devoted to developing a common vision of the steps to reform the social dialogue system in accordance with the Agreement and discussing the draft Strategy for Reforming Social Dialogue in Ukraine.

The round table was organized by the Working Group on Social and Labor Policy and Social Dialogue of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and the Bureau of Social and Political Developments.
Participation in the round table was attended by representatives of the European Economic and Social Committee, major trade unions of Ukraine, representatives of employers' organizations, non-governmental organizations working in the social sphere, specialists in the field of social dialogue development from Moldova, Latvia, Georgia, Finland, Poland, USA, Ukraine .

Round table host Rostyslav Dzundza, Coordinator of the Working Group on Employment, Labor Rights, Safe and Healthy Working Conditions, Social Policy of the Ukraine-EU National Platform, opening the round table, said: "This round table has one goal: the development of specific policies for social partners and for Government that will provide a clear road map for reforming the social dialogue system in Ukraine. "

Representative of the European Economic and Social Committee, Adjie Adamczyk, President of the Eastern Nenighbor Follow-Up Committee, congratulated the participants of the round table and stressed the importance of uniting the efforts of trade unions, employers' organizations and non-governmental organizations in implementing the norms enshrined in the Association Agreement.

Ambassador of Moldova to Ukraine Ion Stevele also emphasized the role of social partnership as a factor of stability in the country. European security is based, among other things, on the activity of civil society in ensuring an effective social dialogue in solving social and labor issues.

The participants of the round table were congratulated by the leaders of the largest trade unions of Ukraine: Gregory Osovy (Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine), Mykhaylo Volynets (Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine) and Vyacheslav Roy (Federation of Unions of Small and Medium Enterprises of Ukraine).

The reports on the experience of reforming the social dialogue in the Eastern Partnership countries were Nugzar Kohreydze, coordinator of the Mobile Center for International Migration Organization (Georgia), Yevhen Roshkovanu, President of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Moldova), Daiva Kvedarayte, Secretary of the International Relations of the Lithuanian Trade Union Solidarumas
The experts presented the history of the development of social partnership in their countries and the pressing challenges faced by them after the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU.

Igor Kaminnik, Executive Director of the Bureau of Social and Political Developments, made a report on the situation with the social dialogue in Ukraine. In particular, participants were presented with an analysis of the current legislation, which regulates the interaction of the parties to the social partnership and proposals for the reform of social dialogue in Ukraine.

The speeches sparked a great deal of discussion among the participants - in conclusion, the representative of Georgia noted - "You have an agreement, it contains specific directives - what, how and when you do - if you want to build a truly European model of social partnership in Ukraine - you have to follow these directives" .

Lubomyr Chorni, the head of the Center for Public Expediency, noted that the main problem of social partnership in Ukraine is the lobbying of the state exclusively for the interests of big business. Therefore, an important task is to include small and medium-sized businesses in the process of social dialogue.

Tetyana Tymoshenko, chairman of the All-Ukrainian federation of employers in the field of tourism, emphasized that "we have no quarreling" - The Association Agreement deals primarily with trade, and in order to become competitive in the European market, we need a quality product, which in turn is a direct consequence of a strong social dialogue.

Viktor Khmylovskyy, president of the Union of Tenants and Entrepreneurs of Ukraine, stressed that there was nothing to share the employers' side. He also added that current norms of the legislation on social dialogue, in particular the principle of representativeness, are not acceptable, especially after the signing of the Association Agreement.

Serhiy Kondryuk, a representative of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine, called on the participants of the roundtable to say "NO" to the draft of the new "Labor Code" as hired workers would not be able to defend their rights at all. We must understand that we have no more than 4-5 days to show the public and the government that we have a clear reform plan.

Representative of the European Social and Economic Committee of Finland Marcus Penttinen gave an example of the great role of social partnership on the example of Finland on the eve of the Finnish War in 1940. Before the Stalinist invasion, the trade unions and employers realized that if they did not reach agreement - then there would be no country. This is a vivid parallel with the current situation in Ukraine.

Summing up the meeting, Rostislav Dzundza stressed that meetings in a similar format should be held regularly so that social dialogue would work more efficiently. Unions of employers and non-governmental organizations will work together to develop concrete recommendations for improving social partnership in Ukraine.
Науково-достідний інститут Unicef Європейський союз Civil Society Forum Карітас України international renaissance foundation Європейська соціальна мережа