Ukrainian social democrats on the struggle between progress and reaction today

Published below is a key Resolution of the 23rd Congress of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (Соціал-Демократична Партія України).  This comes at crucial moment in Ukraine of a major struggle over the attempt by the government to impose a new Labour Law, a struggle which SDPU describe as between the progressive and reactionary forces in Ukraine.

SDPU considers Ukraine is in the grip of an oligarchic elite who have imposed neo-liberalism eroding social and democratic rights. Today Ukraine has essentially a property qualification for elections, with a closed circle in which only oligarchs and their satellite parties dominate parliament and government.   The SDPU appeal to the international labour movement to support the struggle in defence of Ukrainian trade unions and rights of Ukrainian workers.

Christopher Ford

Kyiv, 1 February 2020

Resolution of the 23rd Congress of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine

Once again Ukraine stands before a choice. A quarter of a century ago it was one of the leading countries in Europe and indeed the world. But then it took the road of neoliberalism. The Social Democratic Party of Ukraine warned of the error and danger of that choice and opposed it with all its energy. Yet the government of that time and its founders – the oligarchic clans – forced it through.

Their chosen path deprived Ukraine of its industry and the country’s economic effectiveness fell by SIX times. The welfare state was ruined and we became the poorest country in Europe. The Ukrainian people lost their sovereignty, but Ukraine’s administration by external powers did not give the country any economic development. And so today Ukraine stands once again before a choice of which path to take.

The embodiment of that choice is the question of the new Labour Code. The neoliberal government led by prime minister Honcharuk proposes to do away with the existing Labour Code  and replace it with a new “Law on Labour” which eradicates the remaining state social guarantees: the eight hour working day, the minimum wage and fundamental trade union rights. In addition, the government plans to repeal thirty-eight of the sixty-five basic Conventions of the International Labour Organisation which Ukraine has ratified.

That is, the government is stating clearly and unambiguously its readiness to place Ukraine outside the reach of international law and the moral norms of the international community for the sake of a new neo-liberal experiment. The Social Democratic Party of Ukraine regards this path as dangerous and mistaken and resolutely condemns it.

The Social Democratic Party of Ukraine declares:

  1. The people of Ukraine are at the end of their tether. The main reason for their suffering is the neoliberal policies which are ruining the foundations of the Ukrainian economy and denying the people their right to govern, destroying the very essence of democracy.
  2. Ukraine needs a different path, that will return to the people their sovereignty, develop a strong economy and bring prosperity to the millions of its citizens. This is the path of social democracy.
  3. The path of social democracy involves the development of industry and the rebuilding of a state of generalised prosperity as the main preconditions for social cohesion. This path will overcome the manipulation and will subordinate the Ukrainian state and the national economy to the deep aspirations of the Ukrainian people and to their fundamental values of Freedom and Justice.

The Social Democratic Party of Ukraine proposes:

  1. Today, as the oligarchic system in Ukraine lives out its final days and Ukraine choses a new path for itself, all healthy forces should unite to achieve one overriding goal – to return Sovereignty to the people, to return real power to the people, real and not some declarative democracy.
  2. The main line of confrontation between the old and the new, the watershed that divides progressive and reactionary forces in Ukraine is the issue of the new Labour Code.
  3. of Ukraine is rising up against this neoliberal authoritarianism. We have no doubt that the truth will prevail and the people will win their Sovereignty, Freedom and Prosperity.
  4. We turn to all our sister parties of the Socialist International and we call on you to follow the lead of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine and support the Ukrainian trade unions in their struggle to defend the elementary labour rights of the workers. We need your solidarity! Let us unite, so as to win!

Translation by Marko Bojcun

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