By Charlie Kimber
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Ukraine’s Zelensky supports Boris Johnson and attacks workers’ rights

'I am glad we have not lost a very important ally,' Zelensky said about Johnson
Issue 2808
Boris Johnson in Kiev with Volodymyr Zelensky and a group of armed men

Johnson met Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev in April (Picture: Number 10 on Flickr)

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has demanded yet more weaponry from Nato and lauded Boris Johnson’s role in heading up the assault on Russia. He said a stalemate in the war was “not an option for us” and more arms were needed because at present “we are not capable of advancing”.

Speaking to the Financial Times newspaper at its Global Boardroom conference on Tuesday, Zelensky said pushing Russian forces back to positions occupied before the 24 February invasion would amount to a “serious temporary victory”. But the real aim is to go further and take areas that the Russians regard as their own territory.

Zelensky angrily rejected French president Emmanuel Macron’s warnings to the West not to treat Russia in the spirit of “humiliation”. In contrast, he said it was “great news” that Boris Johnson had survived a no-confidence vote by Tory MPs on Monday night. “I am glad we have not lost a very important ally,” he said.

Meanwhile, the European Public Service Union (EPSU) has denounced the Ukrainian government’s moves to push through “legislation to reduce workers’ protection against dismissal”. It says, “Despite being rejected by the trade unions in the autumn of 2021, Bill 5371 has been introduced under the cover of martial law.

This bill, says the EPSU, is designed to protect bosses by “providing for the possibility of dismissing people without the consent of the union. Although the Bill covers companies with less than 250 employees, there is concern that larger employers will try to exploit its provisions by restructuring into smaller units.”

The EPSU is an umbrella body of national unions. Its vice presidents include Liz Snape of Unison in Britain.

It add that workers’ rights laws in Ukraine are “extremely Soviet and bureaucratic” but that trampling on the existing legislation makes it look “like the authors of the bill prefer the tsarist era”.

The laws are being rammed through when Ukrainians’ right to protest is severely limited by martial law.

In the third week of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the parliament, supported by Zelensky, adopted law 2136 on labour relations. It temporarily—for the period of martial law—freed the hands of businesses to violate workers’ rights.

It allowed companies to suspend collective bargaining agreements, banned strikes, and outlawed street demonstrations without the need for a court ruling.

In November 2021, openDemocracy reported that the British Foreign Office had given advice to Zelensky’s Ministry of Economy on how to push through anti-worker laws.

It said, “A 2021 communication plan prepared by an international development consultancy and marked with the logo of the British Embassy in Kyiv recommends that the Ukrainian ministry should ‘stress’ that liberalising labour laws will bring ‘positive results’ for Ukrainian workers.”

The war has given bosses a further chance to deepen the exploitation of Ukrainian workers. And the Zelensky government stands with them.

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