Publication

Is It Worth to Unite to Protect the Employment Rights?

One could speak a lot on the injustice in the field of employment rights, dependence upon senior management, low salaries, illegal dismissals, however unfortunately until people unite and gain powerful remedies for their rights nothing will change.

In many fields there are trade unions whose purpose is to protect employment rights of employees, but how often do they do this, do we often get to hear of a trade union taking an active stand in favour of the rights of its members, do we actually know numerous successful examples of when a trade union was able to protect the rights of a fellow employee?

I believe, many people would agree that those are mostly standalone cases. Most often an employee who came across the violation of his/her rights will try to “pull his/herself out of a swamp” on his/her own and very often such attempts come to nothing.

In such sensitive fields as transportation, education, medicine, state service the importance of trade unions doubles, as here employees experience a special control on behalf of and dependence upon senior management. In these fields events of injustice with regard to remuneration as well as capability of such an employee to protect his/her rights are not rare.

In these fields the role of a trade union becomes particularly evident. If it actively protects the rights of its members, it can “move heaven and earth”. And here it is worth noting that there are certain positive examples, namely with regard to the trade union of Aerosvit, that was able not only to successfully insist on the payment of a part of salary unpaid by this bankrupt enterprise thanks to its persistence (which is a great amount of money), but also win a huge case versus Ukraine at the European Court with regard to the right of employees of transportation field to go on strike, and that case could change the entire legislation regarding strikes in this field.

However on the other hand other examples which make it hard to speak on a trade union being active are a lot more numerous. This particularly applies to the field of state service where the international standards regarding the right to strike have been long-existent. Nevertheless trade unions of state employees are quite passive when it comes to the protection of this right and as a result, instead of obtaining a judgment of the European Court that would protect their right to strike, the legislation in their regard becomes more severe. Thus, since the start of 2015 state employees will have no right to organize strikes and take part therein.

It all shows that the activities of a trade union define just how efficient the protection of an employee’s rights will be. However often due to unreadiness of trade unions to do so, the situation with the protection of employment rights in Ukraine remains horrible. At the same time one should not forget that very often trade unions’ activity and struggle for employment rights do not depend upon someone who will do something for an employee, but upon the activity of those very people who work at enterprises and who define what a trade union at his or her enterprise will be like.

Everyone will find an answer to the question if it is worth to unite for the protection of his/her employment rights or not for oneself, but one should hope for all of us to realize that unification should not be formal and should come along with understanding of what one does it for, and respectively continued readiness to protect not only his/her rights, but also the rights of his/her colleagues.

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