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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 optimize 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. Nearly 7,000 union leaders worldwide signed the said petition.

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 and immediately provided the needed solidarity and support to the workers that became the driving force that finally led to this partial victory.