Ukraine is the location of the headquarters of the coalition “Solidarity Against Corruption”. Its founding members, NGO Labor Initiatives, Solidarity Center – Ukraine, and partner union organizations, came together in 2016 to highlight the importance of labor rights for the protection of whistleblowers from retaliation. Since then, the coalition has grown and now includes partner organizations in Europe, Eurasia, and Africa.
The SAC knowledge and resource hub is based at Labor Initiatives, and has fostered innovative approaches to anticorruption education, creative community partnerships, and dynamic legal approaches. Its pilot project is Vykryvachi, an interactive manual for whistleblowers, written by Tristan Masat, Country Program Director of the Solidarity Center in Ukraine, and Oleksandr Kalitenko, an expert of Transparency International – Ukraine.
The manual has been engaged during trade union trainings for major union organizations, KVPU (the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine), and the FPU (the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine), as well as in partner events by IFES (the International Foundation for Electoral Systems) during a pre-election campaign for workers in Ukraine who are able to detect and report campaign fraud. Vykryvachi manual was recognized at ELSA (the European Law Students’ Association) anti-corruption moot court as an eminent collection of existing legal protections for whistleblowers in Ukraine.
Beyond its value for anticorruption activists, unionists, and law students, the Vykryvachi manual has gained recognition in the
Persons who expose corruption face pressure and potentially, persecution in the workplace. Mobbing, a specific subtype of harassment in the workplace, is often the first obstacle whistleblowers encounter. With that, the expert team of Labor Initiatives NGO drafted a law, 10118-1, that became an important foundation for the shift in the legal discourse in favor of protection of workers as whistleblowers.
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine registered draft law 10118-1, which is meant to counteract instances of mobbing and harassment in the workplace. The draft law introduces the concept of mobbing into the legal discourse in Ukraine as “psychological and/or economic pressure, harassment, creation of unbearable conditions in order to compel an employee to quit their job or in order to create adverse consequences for an employee”. The definition of mobbing also defines the phenomena in the workplace that nearly every whistleblower faces. The draft law contains effective methods of prevention and counteraction of mobbing against such employees.
Labor Initiatives lawyers provided legal assistance to Hanna Solomatina, arguably the most prominent whistleblower in Ukraine who was fired in retaliation for her reporting corruption at the NAPC (the National Agency for Corruption Prevention).
Ms. Solomatina has quite a story to share. In 2017, she reported corruption at NAPC, and was fired afterwatds. On December 7th, 2018, the Kyiv Administrative District Court rejected her lawsuit, and she wasn’t reinstated at her previous position. Labor Initiatives lawyers worked on the case and helped her grapple with persecution at her workplace. Yet the case is still ongoing, as is the media conversation about NAPC’ functionality.
It was Ms. Solomatina who first drew public attention to concerns with the NAPC and proposed to alter its structure. Only about 300 declarations were monitored by the agency, and at this pace, it would take NAPC 3,600 years to work through all of the declarations stored in its registries. According to Solomatina, a massive overhaul of NAPC is the only route to restore its credibility.
While it is unclear whether Solomatina will succeed at getting her job back, she has developed a notable activist profile, advocating for better protection of whistleblowers and raising awareness about ways to expose corruptionin the workplace.
In December 2018, Kyiv Post named Hanna Solomatina one of the top-five reformers of the year, alongside whistleblowers and changemakers Larysa Golnyk, Kateryna Gandziuk, Halya Chyzhyk, and Sergii Gorbatuk.
Trade union partners utilize the Labor Initiatives advice and office hotlines to identify corruption cases and report instances of alleged corruption. Labor Initiatives legal clinic received numerous hotline calls and referrals from partners related to issues from individuals and union local chapters (more than 1200, with 110 dealing with significant corruption). The legal clinic handles around 150 legal consultations per month on
The Labor Initiatives input was the core of the proposed labor protections in Presidential law draft.The essential amendments are proposed to the special law “On preventing corruption”
Article 53-7. Protection of labor rights
1. The whistleblower or his close relatives or the person equal to the whistleblower cannot be denied employment, dismissed or forced to dismiss, brought to disciplinary responsibility or subjected to negative measures by the manager or employer (transfer, attestation, changing working conditions, refusal of appointment to a higher position, reduction of wages, worsening working conditions, refusal to grant a vacation, removal from post, loss of possibility of promotion, other punishments or discrimination forms of treatment, bringing to material liability) or the threat of such measures due notice of possible facts of corruption or corruption-related offenses and other violations of this law.
Negative measures also include formally legitimate decisions and actions of a manager or employer, but which are selective, in particular, not applied to other employees in similar situations and / or not previously applied to the employee in similar situations.
2. In case of non-fulfillment of the work duties, if it is not the fault of the employee who is a whistleblower, the remuneration shall be paid in the amount of the average salary of the employee for the last year.
3. The whistleblower or a person equal to the whistleblower may not be denied the conclusion or extension of the contract, employment agreement (contract), provision of administrative and other services in connection with notification of possible corruption or corruption-related offenses, other violations of this Law. It’s prohibited to use such obstacles in the further realization of work, professional, economic, social, scientific or other activities, undergoing their service or training, to those persons as well as any discriminatory measures in connection with notifications of possible corruption or related facts with corruption offenses, other violations of this Law.
4. The whistleblower or his close relatives whose rights have been violated contrary to the provisions of the first and / or second parts of this Article, the restoration of their violated rights is guaranteed.
5. The whistleblower or his close relatives, who are dismissed from work in connection with the notification of possible facts of corruption or corruption-related offenses, other violations of this Law are subject to immediate renewal at their previous job (position), and they are paid an average salary during forced absenteeism, but not more than one year. If the application for renewal of the defendant or his / her close relative at work is considered for more than one year, if it is not their fault, he / she is paid the average salary for all the time of forced absence.
6. The whistleblower or his close relatives, transferred to other permanent paid work in connection with the notification of possible facts of corruption or corruption-related offenses, other violations of this Law, are subject to immediate renewal at the previous work, and he shall be paid the difference in salary for the period of paid work, but not more than one year. If the application for renewal of the defendant or his / her close relative at work is considered for more than one year, if it is not his fault, he / she is paid the average salary for all the time of forced absence.
7. If there are grounds for the renewal of an employee who has been dismissed in connection with the notification of possible facts of corruption or corruption-related offenses, other violations of this Law and for his refusal from such renewal, he shall be paid compensation in the amount of six months ‘average salary, and in case of failure to renew – in the amount of two years’ average salary