Photo By: Karl Grobl is licensed under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.
Other Development Accounts
Uniting Against Corruption
In Ukraine, corruption enables authoritarian forces and oligarchic elites to resist democratic reforms and stifle civil society. With funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Solidarity Center has helped to identify Ukraine’s trade union movement as a leader in high profile anti-corruption efforts.
In 2013, Solidarity Center and its union partners founded Labor Initiatives (L.I.), a worker rights center and legal clinic that leads Solidarity Against Corruption: a broad coalition that focuses attention on the successful struggles of local unions against widespread corruption in both public and private enterprises.
Though L.I. handles a broad range of cases and complaints from Ukrainian workers, anti-corruption and whistleblower cases comprise a significant and growing share of casework. In one year, L.I. handled 83 legal cases involving significant corruption. In Ukraine, where wage arrears caused or exacerbated by corruption are a major impetus for protests across the country’s industrial centers, L.I. is supporting its trade union partners to increase their handling of anti-corruption cases and campaigns.
L.I. began sponsoring anti-corruption training programs for grassroots union activists in 2016, teaching them to use Ukraine’s labor laws as a tool to protect themselves when reporting corruption and explaining whistleblowing mechanisms. “When we are helping workers and unions strengthen their impact in a company or an institution, we are effectively strengthening internal accountability,” says Veronika Rudkovska, an L.I. lawyer.
L.I. has also contributed to electoral training programs, identifying common abuses of institutional resources during campaigning. In 2019, L.I. and the Solidarity Against Corruption coalition helped to draft and pass new national whistleblower protection legislation. The whistleblower protection law is the first of its kind in Ukraine.
Beyond Ukraine, L.I. serves as a hub and resource center for other labor movements. In 2019, L.I. carried out trainings in Georgia and Serbia, and began developing case studies based on the experience of trade unions in four other countries in Europe and Eurasia. With increased NED funding in 2020, L.I. will continue to expand its work outside Ukraine, serving as the leading voice in the global worker-led fight against corruption.
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