Ukraine: Company pays wage debt it owes to workers

After five years of trade union struggle, the state-owned enterprise KVARSYT in Ukraine shelled out UAH 5 million (USD 183,070) to its workers as partial payment to the wage debt it owed to them, on top of the UAH 1.2 million (USD 43,936) paid to the workers’ pension fund as social security contributions.  

According to the BWI-affiliated Ukraine Construction and Building Materials Workers’ Union (PROFBUD), KVARSYT owes its workers a total of UAH 47 million (USD 1.72 million) in back wages. The union said that since the start of the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the company has failed to pay the salaries of its workers for five years, taking “precautionary measures” to optimise production.

The workers received their wages after an online petition was launched by PROFBUD with the help of BWI and LabourStart to support the KVARSYT workers. The said petition was signed by nearly 7,000 union leaders worldwide.

The petition, together with trade union solidarity letters, forced Ukrainian state authorities to pay serious attention to the plight of KVARSYT workers and develop a strategy to solve the crisis. 

As such, when KVARSYT sealed its first work contract in June of this year, after many years of market sales loss, it immediately made partial payment to the wage debt it owed to its workers. 

“Trade unions from different continents have heard of the KVARSYT workers’ crisis. They immediately provided the needed solidarity and support to the workers that became the driving force that finally led to this partial victory,” PROFBUD President Vasyl Andreyev said. 

 “PROFBUD expresses its deep gratitude to our comrades from all over the world who created a strong powerful front to defend the KVARSYT workers. We will continue the fight until all workers are fully paid and their rights are respected. The right to remuneration must be reliably protected, in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine and the ILO Convention no. 95,” Andreyev concluded.