Ukraine: Do not merge social insurance and pension funds, say unions

In July, Tretiakova developed these plans during a meeting of the parliamentary committee on social policy.

“The employer can buy their coverage, their liability to the employee, either from the state or from the private sector. But the private sector will give a fair price for such insurance,” Tretyakova said.

Volodymyr Saenko, deputy director of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine, describe these efforts as “nothing more than lobbying the interests of private insurance companies”.

Union response

The merger plan comes as the Ukrainian government prepares to move away from state provision and regulation of socio-economic policy.

This summer, the ruling party imposed a program of sweeping labor deregulation – without consulting unions or referring to legal advice provided by the European Union and the International Labor Organization (ILO).

These new laws, which govern labor protection in small and medium-sized enterprises, are considered to breach EU standards and ILO conventions. Proponents argue they are needed to improve the business climate and reduce bureaucratic burdens associated with hiring and firing.

In August, the head of social policy Tretyakova claims that the ILO, a United Nations agency, was an obstacle for Ukrainians entering into individual labor contracts and protecting their employment rights through more flexible means.

“We have to re-examine the obligations of the state, and they have to match the capacity of the state at this specific historical moment,” Tretyakova told openDemocracy.

Government and ruling party reforms have long placed them on a collision course with Ukraine’s trade unions, which cannot use traditional methods of action, such as mass protests and strikes, in times of war.

MP Mykhailo Volynets, head of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna party, told openDemocracy that they recently met with representatives of the ILO and global unions. Batkivshchyna opposed the merger of social insurance and the pension fund.

“We informed them about violations of ILO conventions, association agreement with the EU, EU directives when the Ukrainian parliament passed a number of bills that undermine the rights labor and trade unions,” Volynets said.

“Everyone fears that the adoption of such laws will negatively affect Ukraine’s image and slow down its adoption in the EU,” he added.

MP Halyna Tretiakova, who supports the merger, recently told parliament that “EU directives do not dictate how a country should organize its social insurance system”.

“I don’t think we should allow external management in our country”, Tretiakova said.

The merger of the two funds must now be signed into law by President Zelenskyi. If it goes ahead, it will come into force in January 2023.

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