70,000 refugees received asylum from the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine

13 грудня 2023, 15:07
Власник сторінки
70,000 refugees received asylum from the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine

Besides, about 9,000 war veterans have already undergone social and psychological rehabilitation in the FPU sanatoriums.

From the very first days of the full-scale invasion, the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine has clearly defined what it should do to help the military who are defending our country, our independence, our freedom and the right to be in the European family.


This is what I had a chance to talk about with Grygorii Osovyi, FPU President, member of the ITUC General Council and member of the ETUC Executive Committee


- Grigorii, all the efforts of Ukraine and Ukrainians are now aimed at helping the frontline. What is the role of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine in this process?


We are well aware of our responsibility, which is materialised, first of all, through the duty to work for the defence of Ukraine. After all, each workplace is focused on this now, either aiming at strengthening Ukraine's defence capability and producing the necessary weapons for the army, or supporting the livelihoods of the country's multimillion population – foodstuff, electricity, housing and social services, etc.


The most important thing that trade unions can do is to promote employment and increase in wages as much as possible. After all, every job and every hryvnia of legal salary is contributing to the Armed Forces - one and a half per cent - but this is a small contribution. What is more important is that an income tax of 18% is deducted from legal salary and is fully allocated to support the Armed Forces. Let's go further. If a person receives a salary, he or she also goes to the shop, buys something, pays for utilities, and another 20% is withheld as VAT. That is, if a person is officially employed, 40% of their earnings actually goes to support the Armed Forces and other budget expenditures. This is more than UAH 450 billion a year! In addition, each employer pays 22% of the payroll to the Pension Fund as a social contribution, which is used to pay pensions and benefits to insured employees in the event of an insured event.


- But this is not the only thing that trade unions do, is it?


Of course not, because almost at every workplace there are workers mobilised to the army. These are tens and hundreds of thousands of people. At some enterprises, the share of mobilised workers ranges from 5-10% to 50% of the total staff. Every trade union organisation and every company keeps in touch with its soldiers, responding to their requests, keeping their jobs and average salaries. Sometimes it happens that members of one trade union gather in a military unit and say that we need a vehicle for some specific tasks. And the trade union starts raising funds. Some organisations buy drones - there are many examples of this.


- And what about membership fees?


First of all, I would like to note that these are small amounts. Once upon a time, the contributions collected in primary trade unions were sent "upstairs" to the central trade union offices and then redistributed to certain programmes and needs of trade union members. Now, on the contrary, most of the fees remain at the places where they are collected. For example, the FPU receives an average only 30 kopecks per month from each trade union member. That is, out of 100 hryvnias paid, 99 hryvnias 70 kopecks remain in the system of a particular trade union. Thus, it is clear who has what opportunities. Nevertheless, for the second year in a row, the FPU has been sending the received membership fees to provide specific assistance to affected trade union members and to support trade union organisations in the de-occupied territories and those in the combat zone.


- Who do you primarily provide financial assistance to?


We have identified three targets. Unfortunately, they are quite sensitive. If a person is killed, we help the family. If a soldier is wounded and undergoes treatment, we help him. If a soldier is captured and his conditions are unknown, we also provide assistance to the family. Last year, on these aims we directed all the fees we received as an organisation, plus the funds we received from our partner organisations - trade unions from other countries – totally more than UAH 15 million. And together with our affiliated sectoral trade unions and territorial trade unions, this is almost UAH 350 million.


- How many members are there in the FPU?


Almost 3 million (2.9 million), who are registered with us. Half of them are out of work - enterprises have been bombed, some have left the country, some have become internally displaced. In other words, they are members of trade unions, but due to various circumstances, they are currently unable to pay their fees. That is why the amount of fees has, of course, decreased.

- I read that you are actively providing shelter to refugees from the war zone?


Yes, we do. This is another important area that we are engaged in. Since the first days of the war, trade unions have opened all their sanatoriums, training centres and tourist facilities to accommodate internally displaced people. At this time, hundreds of thousands of people rushed simultaneously to safer places, especially to the western regions of our country. And our facilities were completely overcrowded with families with children, the elderly, etc. The trade unions took care of all the arrangements for these people, their accommodation and free meals.


- Do you cope on your own or do you have partners, charities and organisations?


Yes, we have them. We could not provide services at our own expense other than some primary ones, so we addressed the international trade union centres where we are members and charitable foundations. We raised more than one hundred and sixty million hryvnias for this purpose last year. This made it possible to accommodate 70,000 people and provide them with food and other necessities without any government involvement or support. Most of the IDPs have now left the health resorts and tourist facilities because people are already receiving compensation for damaged housing, or have found jobs and are renting accommodation as a family, etc.


- So now your sanatoriums are ready to return to normal operations?


No, because we are now moving on to another mega-scale project, which is to provide the material basis for the social and psychological adaptation and rehabilitation of our war veterans. This work has been going on since the beginning of the year, and about 9,000 soldiers have already stayed in the sanatoriums of the Federation of Trade Unions. This is mostly psychological adaptation - to recover their spirit, see their families, children, etc. But the next step is more complex medical rehabilitation of the wounded, who need both prosthetics and post-operative treatment - today there are not tens but hundreds of thousands of them...


- Can you tell us a little more about the work in this area, of course, what can be made public?


We have 160 rehabilitation departments in sanatoriums to help people recover from common illnesses and injuries at work (after a heart attack, stroke, arm or leg injury, etc.). They are designed for post-operative treatment so that people can return to work as soon as possible, even if they have a partial disability.


The situation with soldiers is much more complicated. The character of these injuries and wounds is completely different. That is why we need to equip our centres to take into account the specifics of the physical injuries they have suffered. This is one part of it. We have developed and presented a module on how we can use the material, technical and professional potential of the Federation of Trade Unions, and we are consulting with various structures, including foreign partners.


- How quickly can this project be implemented? And how many wounded can you take in now?


In principle, if we find donors, establish a government-unions partnership and together with employers work with different countries to raise funds, grants and loans, we will be able to quickly equip and expand the range of services for the rehabilitation of war victims and those injured at work. So far, we have about 1,500 beds with appropriate equipment. With proper investment and preparation, we can expand to 14,000 beds. And this will be necessary, because we are talking - I repeat - about tens and hundreds of thousands of people who will need it.


I have another idea how to help our military. It concerns those who have been seriously injured, undergone surgery and people with prostheses. After all, they also need to restore their physical abilities. We have a good sports base located within the Kyiv region. There is a football field, an indoor gym, two hotel-type buildings, and a canteen. Unfortunately, this facility was shelled. It caused some damage, so we need to raise funds to rebuild it. But I am confident that we will find donors and make a great base for our military who have disability or prostheses, but want to recover and do some sport.


- What will trade unions do after the war?


The war will definitely end with our victory, and millions of people will return to work. Of course, the state will guarantee benefits to combatants and veterans. At the same time, the employer and trade union organisation should take care of them through the system of individual and collective agreements, creation of proper conditions at workplace, regulation of work and rest schedule, etc.


We are already thinking ahead how we can organise our trade union assets and build a social alliance with employers after the victory. So that together we can support men and women who will return to peaceful work. This is a very challenging mission that requires training for trade unionists and employers, as well as specialists from HR and social services. We also need to build horizontal links with local governments to help war veterans adapt to civilian life more quickly.
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РОЗДІЛ: События в Украине
ТЕГИ: профспілки,Федерація профспілок України
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