Unite or Fall: Labor Protests in Ukraine in the Face of the Crises


  • Oksana Dutchak Center for Social and Labor Research




Ukraine is facing changes of a significant scale. Caused by external and internal factors and processes, these changes will influence the socio-economic and political reality of the majority of Ukrainians. The character and degree of the changes are yet to be defined in the political struggle inside the country. Do workers, as the biggest social class, have the potential to press for their interests in the face of a spiraling crisis? In this article we tried to answer this question by analyzing labor protests in the country. Our research of empirical material of the Ukrainian Protest and Coercion database shows that labor actors have significant bargaining power on local issues but lack coordinated and relatively large-scale mobilization, hence, can hardly influence state-level politics. Being scattered and defensive, lacking solidarity among themselves and without support from allies, workers have few chances to succeed in promoting their agenda. Some possible logical and empirically supported solutions to increase labor bargaining power in this context are also suggested in the article.


Atanasov, V. and A. Riabchuk (2012) Cine-Train to KhMZ: Comments on Video-Documentation of Workers’ Protests at Kherson Machine-Building Plant. [in Ukrainian] Commons: Journal of Social Critique, 4: 134-145.

CSLR: Center for Social and Labor Research. (2010-2013) Bases of Ukrainian Protest and Coercion Database Project http://cslr.org.ua/bazi-protestnih-podiy-ta-povidomlen-2/ Accessed: 31-04-2015.

CSLR: Center for Social and Labor Research. (2013) Ukrainian Protest and Coercion Data Codebook. [in Ukrainian] http://cslr.org.ua/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/UPCD_Codebook_2013.pdf Accessed: 31-04-2015.

Crowley, S. (2004) Explaining Labor Weakness in Postcommunist Europe: Historical Legacies and Comparative Perspective. East European Politics and Societies, 18 (3): 394-429. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0888325404267395

Dutchak, O. (2013) Silent Plankton or Blind Authorities? Strikes, which, Supposedly, Do Not Happen. [in Ukrainian] http://cslr.org.ua/bezmovniy-plankton-chi-slipa-vlada-str/ Accessed: 31-04-2015.

Ishchenko, V. (2010) Do They Count Protests in Ukraine Correctly? Part 1. [in Ukrainian] http://cslr.org.ua/chi-pravilno-v-ukrayini-rahuyut-protesti-chastina-1/ Accessed: 31-04-2015.

Kravchuk, O. (2014) Possible Socio-Economic Outcomes of Eurointegration for Ukraine. [in Ukrainian] http://commons.com.ua/mozhlivi-sotsialno-ekonomichni-naslidki/ Accessed: 31-04-2015.

Kubicek, P. (1999) Organized Labor in Postcommunist States: Will the Western Sun Set on It, Too? Comparative Politics, 32 (1): 83-102. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/422434

Kubicek, P. (2002) Civil Society, Trade Unions and Post-Soviet Democratisation: Evidence from Russia and Ukraine. Europe-Asia Studies, 54 (4): 603-624. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09668130220139181

Mandel, D. (2004) Labour after communism : auto workers and their unions in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Montréal, CAN ; London, UK : Black Rose Books. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1522/030179024

Nechyporenko, M.(2015) Ukrainian Crises and Ways Out of It. [in Russian] http://commons.com.ua/ukrainskij-krizis/ Accessed: 31-04-2015.

Pan'kova, O. and E. Ivashchenko (2006) Strike Movement in Ukraine: Trends and Specificities. [in Russian], Sociology: Theory, Methodology, Marketing, 2006 (3): 236-248.

Popovych, Z. (2012) Hot Days of Komsomolsk ‘Italian strike’: Strike at Iron Ore Enrichment Works of Ferrexpo Corporation. [in Ukrainian] Commons: Journal of Social Critique, 4: 173-185.

Riabchuk, A. (2007) The Adaptation Discourse as a Means of Marginalization of the Working Class in post-Soviet Societies. [in Russian] Sociology: Theory, Methodology, Marketing, 2007 (1): 105-114.

Simonchuk, E. (2005) Working Class in Ukraine: Chronicle of Losses. [in Russian] Sociology: Theory, Methodology, Marketing, 2005 (4): 5-25.

Simonchuk, E. (2006) Working Class in Ukraine: Trends of a Recomposing Structure. [in Russian] Sociology: Theory, Methodology, Marketing, 2006 (2): 38-65.

Varga, M. (2011a) An Anatomy of ‘Collective Anti-Collectivism’: Labor Sociology in Ukraine and Romania. Global Labour Journal, 2 (1): 43-63. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15173/glj.v2i1.1092

Varga, M. (2011b) Political Involvement in Industrial Conflict in Ukraine during the World Economic Crisis, 2008-2010. Emecon: Journal for Employment and Economy in Central and Eastern Europe, 1(1): 1-19.