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Ukraine: International solidarity helps union build new HQ

published 1 October 2015 updated 12 October 2015

The Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine has officially moved in to its new offices, built thanks to Education International’s Solidarity Fund, to which education unions worldwide contributed.

In February 2014, the headquarters of the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine (TUESWU) were burnt down during violent clashes between demonstrators and police forces. The clashes originated in the highly unstable political environment at the time, which was brought on by anti-government protests and, later, the annexation of Crimea and military activities in the eastern part of Ukraine.

Since then, Education International (EI) and its European region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), helped the trade union to rent hotel rooms situated far from the city centre as offices for its staff.

Despite the difficulties, the TUESWU continued to struggle for teachers’ rights and against the government’s austerity policies. It even succeeded in preventing some government-proposed cuts in teachers’ salaries.

EI mission

In March 2015, EI led an international trade union mission to Ukraine to take stock of the situation and determine ways to assist TUESWU in its search for new offices.

That same month, EI and ETUCE mobilised the global teacher unions’ community to financially support the Ukrainian member organisation and provide its members with a roof over their heads. Through EI and ETUCE member unions’ donations to the Solidarity Fund, educators in Ukraine could once again establish a head office for their trade union. Members of TUESWU also added significant funds to the purchase and renovation of equipment for the office by contributing to the fund set up by TUESWU for this purpose. This money helped provide the trade union with the office equipment and furniture needed to ensure its effective work.

Salary increase

The TUESWU has also celebrated another achievement recently. As a result of mass protests led from May to June, the union succeeded in achieving an 18 per cent increase in teachers’ salaries effective from 1 September 2015. However, TUESWU believes this increase is far from sufficient, as it only compensates for annual inflation.

In its new offices and with renewed energy, TUESWU is ready to meet new challenges and continue its struggle for decent work and quality education. It is very grateful for and appreciates the international solidarity of its sister unions for helping it to survive in difficult times.