Law #1658: Neo-Serfdom Reinstated in The Ukraine

“And other job duties, as defined by your Supervisor….”

This piece appeared in ZILV  yesterday.  It is about the new Labor Code which passed its first reading in the national Rada on 5 November.  The legislation is entitled “Draft #1658”.  In Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, there are 450 Deputies.  To pass legislation requires 50% + 1 vote, in other words 226 votes.  The new Codex was voted “yay” by 258 Rada deputies in other words many more than even needed to pass.  The new law will come into effect as of 1 January 2016.

Before diving into criticism of the draft legislation, I at least tried to find a link to the actual draft law, wasn’t able to, but it’s probably out there somewhere.  I did find this piece in English  which explains key points of the new legislation:

  • Provides broad unilateral power to employers…
  • The employer has the right to monitor the performance of the employees  job duties, including the use of technical means (e.g., video surveillance)…
  • The employer is given the right to transfer employees to another employer …
  • The employer (has the) right to dismiss a worker for example, for disclosure of their own salary rate…
  • An employee is subject to dismissal without notification in case the worker refused preventive inoculation or medical inspection (Article 74)…
  • Under the draft code the assignment of overtime work does not require the consent of the representing trade union…
  • Under the draft code the employer is provided with the power of assigning the worker to perform additional duties, if the volume of work by employment function does not ensure full employment…
  • According to the draft code, approval of the trade union for the dismissal of employees is required only in case of staff reduction. (Article 86)
  • It is permitted to dismiss single mothers having children aged under 15 on the general grounds provided in article 92 of the Code such as non-fulfilment or improper fulfilment of employment duties by employee.
  • (Repeal of current legislation whereby) mothers with children under three years may not be involved in night work, overtime work and work weekends, days of public and religious holidays.  Under new law, moms with little kids might have to work nights, or risk being fired.

A Diverse Workplace is a Happy Workplace!

Discimination is Encouraged

When voting up the draft, the deputies REJECTED proposed amendments which forbid discrimination against workers based on the usual identity markers (gender, race, sexual orientation).  The anti-discrimination amendments garnered only 117 votes, and did not pass.  Bottom line is, under Ukraine’s labor law, workers can be fired by their employers for being the wrong gender, race, or having an incorrect sexual orientation.

This new Codex focuses on defining a labor force which is mobile, can work from home, works on contract, is spied on by video cameras, can be easily dismissed or replaced.  Just like in the good old USA!

I’ll Loan You To My Friend

One of the hallmarks of neo-serfdom (and also actual slavery as practiced, say, in the United States up to 1863) is that the serfs/slaves can be separated from their land (even from their families) and “sold” or sometimes “loaned” to a fellow slave-owner.  This is the sad fate which befell Tom in Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and also Solomon Northup in “Twelve Years a Slave”.

Uncle Tom negotiating his new contract with Simon Legree

Now, in its own version of neo-serfdom, Ukraine has made it legal for employers to “loan out” their workers to fellow employers, with no indication of when such “loan work” terminates, and also without any additional compensation for the laborers.  They can, in essence, work two jobs, while only being paid for one.

Other key points of the new legislation:

  • Employers are allowed to increase the work week above 40 hours, without corresponding increase in pay.
  • The ONE GOOD THING I could find in the legislation:  annual vacation days increase from 24 to 28 days, in line with European standards.  More vacation – yay!

Overall, except for the increased vacation time, the new legislation is a step BACK from the rights which Ukrainian workers enjoyed in Soviet times.  It is a step back to the neo-serfdom that they experienced back in … say, the year 1658!

Workplace Motivator from circa 1658.

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13 Responses to Law #1658: Neo-Serfdom Reinstated in The Ukraine

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Bottom line is, under Ukraine’s labor law, workers can be fired by their employers for being the wrong gender, race, or having an incorrect sexual orientation.”

    But Sir Elton John’s rousing speach back in September!..


  2. Jen says:

    ” … The legislation is entitled “Draft #1658, and was voted “yay” by 258 Rada deputies out of a required 226 votes …”

    What, you mean the legislation required 226 votes to pass and 258 Rada twats gave it the thumbs-up (and workers the thumbs-down)? For a moment I thought some of the Rada deputies from Porky Pig and Ratsenyuk’s side got to vote twice.

    I suppose now Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” will be required viewing in workplaces as to what workers can expect and how employers should deal with them.

    Karl Marx must be crying in his grave.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yalensis says:

      Dear Jen:
      Oh, sorry for ambiguity. The Rada has 450 deputies. To pass a legislation, I think you need 50% of deputies + 1 vote. In other words, 226 votes.
      The Labor Codex received more than the required 226 votes, is what I mean to say: It received 258 votes.
      Maybe I should correct the translation in the text above, if it is ambiguous. I think I will do that right now. Just give me a minute….


    • yalensis says:

      Okay, I fixed that in the post, thanks for pointing out the confused translation.

      To your other point:
      Yeah, Karl Marx in his grave is crying like a baby. Because once the Soviet Union collapsed, and neo-liberal economists took over the world, it was pretty much a done deal, that workers everywhere would be crushed like bugs.
      Whenever you see people like McCain and Nuland sobbing about “human rights” and “dignity” and so on, then you know the whip and knout can’t be far behind!


  3. Cortes says:

    I showed your article last night to a young friend originally from Cherkasy. She was devastated. Friends of her back home have grown kids with professional qualifications who have to scrabble around in the black or grey economy in Kiev. No wonder the EU is lifting the drawbridge. Younger people would flood into the EU given half a chance.


  4. Jen says:

    It’s occurred to me that this new labour code suits people like Poroshenko and Kolomoisky, as CEOs of huge corporations with fingers in every pie, to a T.

    Allowing employers to lend out their workers to another employer makes sense if both employers are subsidiary companies owned by the same corporation.


    • yalensis says:

      Yep, these laws are quite convenient for the oligarchs. Oligarchs will promote themselves from mere capitalist businessmen to feudal lords. They already have their own private militias, now they will have their own mobile press-gangs of industrial labor force too.
      Like I wrote above, it’s literally a return to 1658. That was 10 years after the Khmelnitsky revolt on Left-Bank Ukraine. Ten years following the peasant revolt against Polish rule, a clique of Cossack Hetman were busy consolidating all the land ownership and turning what remained of free peasants into neo-serfs.
      Seems like, in the Ukraine history is constantly repeating itself!


  5. LadyBug1995 says:

    #BlackLivesMatter is still so much less important than Feminism! As long as ALL women are oppressed by patriarchy why do we even worry about a very narrow oppression example – just a single race?


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