UK trade unions stand with Ukraine

UK trade unions have issued statements of solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and have been encouraging members to donate to the IUC appeal.

The TUC statement read: “The TUC condemns the illegal invasion of a sovereign nation and calls for Russia to respect Ukrainian territorial integrity. We join the global union movement in calling for peace and urge all governments to reach a negotiated solution through diplomacy, including a return to the framework of the Minsk agreements, to bring about peace, democracy, security, and human and trade union rights for all in Europe, Ukraine and Russia.

“The humanitarian consequences for civilians must be urgently addressed and international humanitarian law must be respected. We support the UNHCR’s calls for neighbouring governments to keep borders open to all those that need safety and call on our own government to play its part in supporting humanitarian assistance for forcibly displaced people and to welcome refugees seeking to come to the UK.

“Working people always suffer in conflict and the pursuit of peace is a fundamental trade union value, an essential condition to secure safety, social justice and workers’ and human rights.

“We send our solidarity to our Ukrainian trade union sisters and brothers and all the people of Ukraine; we know that working people in Europe, Ukraine and Russia want peace and we encourage solidarity between workers across borders. The TUC supports all efforts which lead to peace and social justice.”

The NASUWT statement read: “The NASUWT stands in unity with the people of Ukraine and the international community in condemning the illegal invasion and military action by Russia in Ukraine.

“The NASUWT stands with the people of Ukraine and Russia who strive for peace, democracy and security. The NASUWT stands in solidarity with the teachers, students, and people of Ukraine in calling for peace, democracy, security, and respect for human and trade union rights in Ukraine.

“The NASUWT stands with our trade union sisters and brothers in Ukraine and with teachers in Ukraine and we extend our solidarity and support to the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine (TUESWU) and the Free Trade Union of Education and Science of Ukraine (VPONU) in their efforts to protect children’s right to education.

“The NASUWT further extends our solidarity to trade unions across Europe and the world who are working to secure peace, democracy and human rights and to provide vital humanitarian support and assistance to the people of Ukraine and those who have been displaced.

“The NASUWT calls on the UK government to play its part in providing humanitarian assistance and support to the people of Ukraine who are being forcibly displaced as a consequence of Russian military invasion, including the provision of safe passage to the UK.

“The NASUWT further calls on the international community to work together to ensure the right of all children and adults to safe education in a peaceful learning environment.  The NASUWT urges the international community to commit to take action against those who incite or perpetrate attacks on education institutions, facilities or teachers and to bring those culpable to justice.”

The UNISON statement read: “No one can fail to be moved by the scenes of terrified civilians taking shelter underground or of the hundreds of thousands of women and children desperately trying to cross the border to safety, to an uncertain future as a refugee.

“UNISON immediately condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week and has called for Russian troops to withdraw to allow meaningful peace talks to go ahead.

“The union has reached out in solidarity to public service unions in Ukraine whose members are on the frontline trying to save lives as civilian casualties rise. Workers and ordinary people in both Ukraine and Russia are the victims of this war, not the perpetrators.

“It has today agreed to donate £10,000 to an appeal by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). It is also talking to our European and international union federations, EPSU and PSI, about how we can practically support those unions and Ukrainian public service workers.

“Europe is facing a major refugee crisis. As most European countries have opened their borders to refugees from Ukraine, the UK’s own government is shamefully still putting up significant administrative barriers to prevent refugees arriving in the UK.

“And it is not just Ukrainians who are trying to get out. Thousands of migrant workers and students from around the world are caught up in the chaos and there have been disturbing reports of racial discrimination against them by border guards, which UNISON condemns.

“UNISON is also encouraging branches to reach out to any Ukrainian members they may have to see how they can be supported at this incredibly difficult time.”

The GMB’s Central Executive Council statement said: “GMB unequivocally condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There is no justification for such an appalling, illegal act, which has brought destruction and terror to the citizens of this independent sovereign nation.

“The people of Ukraine should be able to go about their lives peacefully and the terrible violence and death being inflicted on them must stop.

“Our union calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of invading Russian forces and urges all parties to engage in diplomatic efforts to reach a non-violent solution to this conflict, with a return to the Minsk agreements providing a framework.

“We send a powerful message of support to our trade union sisters and brothers across Ukraine. Please know that as you experience this incredibly difficult moment in your lives, you are in our thoughts, hearts, and prayers. We stand in solidarity with you.

“Workers throughout the world share enduring common bonds and there is more that unites us than divides. GMB is proud to stand with trade union comrades across Europe, Ukraine, and Russia who deserve better than this awful conflict and we join them in calling for peace.”

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The situation in Ukraine is devastating to witness and on behalf of the University and College Union I am sending best wishes and solidarity to all those affected.

“As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flee their own homes from the Russian invasion, it is vital that our government removes all barriers to Ukrainian citizens coming to the UK and ensures a comprehensive package of support is available to those that arrive here. Anything less is a dereliction of duty and should be condemned as such.

“It should not be forgotten that war also brings additional challenges for those from Black, disabled and LGBT+ communities. We must remind all governments, especially our own, of their duty to treat all refugees equally and with dignity, no matter which community they come from or which conflict they flee from.”

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “This Russian invasion is an appalling and reactionary assault on the independence of Ukraine. The CWU sends its solidarity to the working people of the country and calls for an immediate ceasefire and diplomatic resolution to this crisis.

“The scenes that have gripped the world over the course of the last few days have been devastating, from bombed apartment buildings to the thousands of women and children fleeing to neighbouring countries.

“The main victims of this conflict will be the civilians of Ukraine. As with any war it is ordinary people and workers who are swept up and sacrificed so that rulers such as Vladimir Putin may exercise their lust for power and wealth.

“It is right that sanctions have been leveraged against wealthy oligarchs and the Russian state. It is regretful that Putin’s aggression will lead to a significant impact on his own people who are also innocent bystanders in his hunger for the creation of a new sphere of influence.

“In Russia, hundreds of people have bravely defied the vast security state apparatus of Vladimir Putin to protest his invasion. It appears that ordinary Russians are bemused by this act of aggression and celebrities from across Russian arts and culture have joined members of the public in denouncing the war.

“Even with this horrific crisis we can see that working people – though separated by borders, nationalities and backgrounds – are united in their condemnation of needless aggression, suffering and war.

“The CWU stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and importantly, with all our members here in the UK who are from Ukraine who will be understandably concerned about the safety of their family, friends and their communities.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The military aggression against an independent country unfolds at an alarming pace. There is overwhelming support being expressed throughout Unite to support the people of Ukraine.

“It is not only the struggle for democracy that concerns us but also the struggle for people’s rights to work and build their future in peace.

“During last weekend I intervened regarding the receiving of Russian vessels into British ports. The actions of our dock worker members were critical in the UK government’s subsequent decision to formalise the port restrictions.

“Many Unite members have asked for details of a solidarity fund knowing that support for food, clothing and, crucially is urgently needed. The global trade union movement is acting speedily and unions in neighbouring countries are providing shelter and necessities for the many thousands of refugees who have fled Ukraine.”

A statement from the RMT said: “The RMT condemns the invasion of Ukraine and calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops. It is workers who suffer at the hands of military conflict. As trade unionists we oppose war and support peace.”

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “As journalists continue to report in dangerous conditions across Ukraine, Unesco must act now to ensure their safety within the country. The NUJ stands in solidarity with sister unions and has supported calls for donations to the International Federation of Journalists’ safety fund.

“We also urge all employers and engagers to ensure that staff and freelance journalists reporting across Ukraine on their behalf have all the necessary safety equipment and support they need.”

A statement from the RCM reads: “We join with trade unions worldwide in condemning the invasion of Ukraine and demanding that Russian and Byelorussian invading forces leave immediately to allow for meaningful peace talks.

“Unions exist to ensure fundamental workers’ rights are met and protected. Although there is no single midwife union in Ukraine the RCM is working with and supporting public service unions in Ukraine whose members are on the front line, including the Health Workers’ Union of Ukraine.

“Many health workers in Ukraine are experiencing the worst of the conflict as they stay on the front line, caring for and assisting people. Women and children are being targeted indiscriminately and made refugees.

“The RCM has donated to the Ukraine solidarity fund of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). It has also donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Ukraine Appeal and the Disasters Emergency Committee – the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

“The RCM is also working closely with brother and sister unions in the UK and is talking to European and international federations, EPSU and PSI, about what can be done to support Ukrainian unions and their members.

“This work not only stands in solidarity with people of Ukraine but also the thousands of migrant workers and students from around the world that are also caught up in the conflict.”

  • You can donate to the ITUC appeal here.

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