Ukraine: building the union in challenging times

Ukraine training

(18 August) Yesterday, 28 members of the Social Workers’ Union (SWU) participated in a one-day recruitment and organising training session organised by EPSU.

The session took place in Khmelnytskyi, around 320 kilometres west of Kyiv at the trade union training centre which only weeks before had been welcoming refugees from the war.

The training was led by Artem Tidva, a member of EPSU’s R&O team. Normally based in Kyiv, just after the invasion Artem moved to Khmelnytskyi where he has been very active in the efforts of the local trade unions to support those affected and displaced by the conflict.

At the beginning of the day, participants were welcomed by Vasyl Andreyev, deputy head of the FPU confederation, who talked about the work done at the trade union centre since the beginning of the war and thanked Artem for his initiative to start using the centre for training again.

Oleg Skovorodnikov, regional head of the FPU confederation, spoke of the activities of local trade unionists at the centre where beds and meals have been provided to thousands of refugees. Oleksander Tsuzick, head of the SWU’s Khmelnytskyi regional underlined the importance of the training session as part of the exchanges with European trade unions that were key to the process of building democracy and freedom in Ukraine. 

Artem began the training session by focusing on the importance of organising to strengthen unions through member engagement. He got the group discussing how to listen to members and fellow workers and identify the issues of concern at the workplace and how to get members active in dealing with them.

The session also covered workplace mapping and how to collect data on members, potential members and activists and how to develop members into activists. Artem explained the stages in moving workers from passive membership to taking on some basic tasks and then moving to more responsibilities, all along relying on experienced union members as mentors. He also gave some tips on identifying workers who might be natural leaders.

The final session focused on how to develop and implement a recruitment and organising campaign with the participants divided into teams to work on the campaign timetable and tactics and then to present and discuss their ideas in the whole group.