EPSU Northeast European Constituency Meeting 10.03.2022
(11 March 2022) Fighting continues after the Russian army invaded Ukraine. In the constituency meeting the union colleagues reported on the villages and towns that are surrounded and destroyed. The attack on the Maripol nursery and hospital was world news. The besieged city of Kharkiv as seen 11 hospitals, maternities and policlinics being hit. The World Health Organisation has confirmed 18 attacks on hospitals and clinics. The health workers call on respecting the guidelines of the World Health Organisation and not to target medical facilities and health care workers. Russian troops are targeting people leaving the main cities according to the union reports. Curfews and checkpoints are in place. The union of nuclear workers shared the dangers the fighting poses to the nuclear power plants. In several plants workers are working under the control of the Russian occupation forces. Municipal workers try to deliver the basics like water and heating. Constant shelling and bombardments make this sometimes impossible, and people are left without water. The army and local defence units have broad support.
The unions have set up centres to assist the refugees inside the country. Many union members are assisting and especially the youth groups play an important role. The union colleagues mentioned there is a lack of supplies including of sanitary products. The unions stressed the importance of setting up neutral zones for example with the Red Cross, of creating humanitarian zones and corridors to allow the evacuation of people. All Ukrainian colleagues have stories of personal suffering, families and friends being shot at and worse. Attacks on residential areas have increased and people have fled. Millions have been internally displaced while others have gone to neighbouring countries.
The Ukrainian unions thank all for the messages of solidarity and support. It is now important to turn that in concrete assistance. The financial support via the ETUC/ITUC solidarity fund remains important.
Following discussions and questions with the other members of the constituency the North East European unions call for:
- Demand humanitarian corridors are opened
- Support the WHO’s call that health facilities and health care workers should not be attacked.
- Discussing the position of the Russian unions in the union movement. The unions were very critical that FNPR is supporting the invasion.
- Continued support for the Solidarity Fund
- Joining the 15 March global action of the unions
- Support for sanctions
- Joining the call for EU membership of Ukraine (and Georgia and Moldova).
- Contribute to create a No-fly-zone over Russia.
- Reflection on the immediate future with Foreign debt cancellation, assistance to rebuild the country and a programme of social and democratic reforms for the Ukraine but possibly as part of such reforms in the rest of Europe including Russia. We will explore if we can meet more often.
There were also presentations on the work of the EPSU Women’s and Gender Equality Committee and its support for women affected by the war in Ukraine. The report of the youth committee showed how much they try to assist with youth groups in Baltic countries and Ukraine having been active in organising volunteers, aid, transport and more.
We will explore a more regular meeting to update each other of the situation.
The meeting of the Northeast European Constituency took place 10 March 2022.