Trade unions in the temporarily occupied areas of Luhansk region are lobbying the interests of the self-proclaimed government of the so-called “LPR” instead of protecting social and economic rights of trade union members. They call to join the ranks of illegal armed groups, and participate in meetings at the international level as trade union representatives of the so-called “LPR”. These were the findings of the report presented by representatives of the Vostok Human Rights Group at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
The activities of trade union organizations in the occupied areas of Luhansk region were studied in December 2016 – April 2017. The Vostok Human Rights Group conducted 57 telephone and Skype-interviews with members of trade union organizations “Federation of LPR Trade Unions” (FPLNR) and some enterprise managers in occupied territories, former trade union activists and face-to-face interviews with workers of enterprises in nine occupied cities.
Pressure on trade unions
Pavlo Lysianskyi, chairman of the Vostok Human Rights Group, said that so-called “FPLNR” was created in June 2014. The self-proclaimed government forced trade unions belonging to Ukrainian trade union associations to join it. The leaders who refused to do this were persecuted in the form of detention and interrogation, 10-days arrest, notice of suspicion followed by criminal prosecution for “extremism”. The report notes that attempts to create alternative trade unions or voluntarily leave the “FPLNR” ended in arrests of initiative groups’ members.
De facto, protests in the uncontrolled territory are prohibited. “But there were protests, and we covered them. For example, miners demanded their wages, but such protest actions were suppressed by force. There is no notion of the law, because the so-called courts do not consider complaints about non-payment of wages. There is no labor protection at enterprises. […] If we analyze open sources, we will never see the criticism of the so-called power coming from ‘Federation of LPR Trade Unions’. However, it is illogical, because the protection of social and economic rights always requires criticism of the current government,” noted Pavlo Lysianskyi. He stressed that all these facts violate the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Campaigns for taking up arms
Human rights activists have revealed direct evidence that trade unions are campaigning among enterprise employees to join the illegal armed groups. “We received an internal document of so-called ‘Federation of LPR Trade Unions’ dated January 21,2015,” explains Pavlo Lysianskyi. The document states: “Particular attention should be paid to the issue of recruiting volunteers to protect the borders of the LPR,” adds the human rights activist.
Lobbying “LPR” internationally
The so-called “Federation of LPR Trade Unions” is used as a tool for lobbying and legalizing the so-called “LPR” internationally under the guise of protecting social and economic rights. According to Pavlo Lysianskyi, its leader repeatedly visited Brussels, and this federation was admitted to the World Federation of Trade Unions. “We call on human rights organizations and the international community to pay attention to this issue. It should be reported to Euro-MPs and key Ukrainian ministries dealing with the occupied territories, because now this issue is not discussed. People who call themselves leaders of occupied territories freely travel to the EU. […] This leads to increased hostilities rather than promotes peace,” emphasized Pavlo Lysianskyi.
Full text of the report is available at the link below: