There are more and more signs that Ukraine’s social development is not going along the declared European path, but along Latin American, in particular Brazil, where, after the reform of labor legislation, the rights of workers and trade unions are constantly violated.

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Let’s do a simple comparative analysis.

Brazil, 2017 – The authorities introduced an accelerated procedure for amending 117 articles and 200 terms of the Consolidation of Labor Laws. Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer decided to overcome the economic crisis by making the labor market and collective bargaining “more flexible”.

Ukraine, 2019 – Galina Tretyakova, head of the social policy committee, suggested that businesses “easily hire and fire,” while “discriminating and infringing on the rights of employees.”

Ukraine, 2022 – the head of the social policy committee, Galina Tretyakova, and a team of her like-minded people decide in an accelerated turbo mode under the guise of a war to “correct” the labor legislation of Ukraine. They develop and adopt laws in the Verkhovna Rada that “will ensure the proper level flexibility labor relations”.

An individual labor contract is lobbied, which is prescribed for the employer, and its force is higher than the Labor Code. The length of the working day, working conditions, the availability of vacation and sick leave are all at the discretion of the employer. Of course, the employee has a choice – to accept or look for another job.

Read also: The bill “On Labor”: the state cancels the labor rights of Ukrainians and at the same time is removed from their protection before employers

Both in Brazil and in Ukraine, trade unions interfered and opposed the destruction of people’s labor rights.

And, of course, in both cases, the authorities had to do something with them. Since in Brazil they received partial funding from the state, there they simply cut off financial oxygen. Brazilian trade unions have been supported for five years only by charitable and voluntary assistance.

In Ukraine, the situation is more complicated – Ukrainian trade unions are financially independent from the state. They are financed by trade union dues of millions of union members, receive international trade union solidarity assistance, manage the property complex of trade union sanatoriums and resorts, which they have preserved over 30 years of independence. But the Ukrainian government has found a way to bleed national trade unions: to take away the instruments of statutory activities, in other words, trade union property.

Dozens of courts, pressure, intimidation. But even the European Court of Human Rights has recognized the legality of owning and using trade union facilities.

When this did not produce results, the Ukrainian authorities went ahead – they decided to come up with a new law and nationalize trade union property.

Let’s return to the Brazilian experience. Five years have passed since the labor reform. The recession and health crisis hit the economy hard, causing unemployment and informal employment to rise. Workers saw a weakening of their rights: simplification of the dismissal procedure; the introduction of temporary contracts without a minimum income guarantee; restriction of free access to labor justice…

But with all this, the labor reform did not bring the promised macroeconomic benefits – it did not activate the labor market. The average income of Brazilians has decreased.

Inflation jumped to 30%. In 2021, unemployment peaked at 14.7% (in 2014 it was 4.8%), which is one of the highest among the G20 countries. And, attention, almost 40% of the working-age population do not have employment contracts or social protection. Throw in accidents at work, forced and child labor, which have only increased over the past five years.

In 2022, the International Trade Union Confederation ranked Brazil among the “ten worst countries in the world for working people.” In its January 2022 report on workers’ rights and social protection, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development writes that “Brazil is far from meeting the values, standards and commitments” required to join the organization, due in part to its “failure to protect workers’ rights”.

As for the situation in Ukraine. Recently, Ukrainian trade unions were officially admitted to the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which unites the largest trade unions of the EU member countries. In fact, the trade unionists of Ukraine have already become members of the large European community!

But there is no merit of the state here – only the work of the trade unions themselves. So, this very European, as well as the International Confederation of Trade Unions, in letters to the Ukrainian Prime Minister and President, directly wrote that the authorities violate the international obligations of Ukraine by their actions.

“It is simply incomprehensible why the government and members of the ruling party in parliament, instead of focusing on the needs of war and reconstruction, continue their blatant attacks on workers and trade unions,” the letter says.

It is clear that there are many reasons for Brazilian troubles. But quite a few experts agree that the failed reform of the Labor Code and the subsequent anti-social policies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have caused the greatest damage to workers’ rights.

With his support, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes pushed through a series of legislative and administrative changes that were denounced by workers’ rights advocates. Occupational safety standards have been relaxed, labor inspectorates have been drastically reduced, and exemptions from employer contributions have drained social security resources. By the way, Gedesh also planned the privatization of the pension system (which is actually lobbied by Tretyakov here).

For the right-wing liberal radicals in the Brazilian government and for the president who heads this government, such a policy ended sadly. Recently, Brazil has elected a new president. The country’s new leader, former trade union leader Lula da Silva, has promised to revise the reform of the Labor Code. Especially the points concerning access to labor justice and trade union autonomy.

Thus, by attacking labor rights and destroying trade unions, the Ukrainian government is confidently following the beaten path of Latin American countries – towards poverty and dictatorship.

However, there is still a chance to get off the dead-end Brazilian path and head for the civilized world, for Europe, where great state policy is based on Man with his values, needs and guarantees of ensuring labor and social rights.

More articles by Andrey Pavlovsky read the link.