What does a trade union do in war? Olga Losynska can tell us.

26.04.22

Democracy

What does a trade union do in war? Olga Losynska can tell us.

UNI is supporting our German affiliate ver.di’s efforts to show the impact the war in Ukraine is having on working people. Please see the story of Olga Losynska, a trade unionist from the Ukrainian seafarers‘ Union MTWTU. For more information, visit ver.di’s website and please share her story on social media as well.

Olga Losynska (34 years young) is currently working on the fourth floor of the ver.di federal administration, right at the heart of our seafarers’ department. Olga looks after Ukrainian seafarers and dockers.

She is from Odessa, the biggest port city in Ukraine. The Port of Hamburg, HHLA, also has huge facilities there and processes crucial parts of its business via the Black Sea. Olga stands up for the people who make this kind of international shipping business possible by watching over compliance with international tariff standards.

Ukraine is the world’s second largest maritime nation, right after the Philippines. The trade union representing the employees is the Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine (MTWTU). The MTWTU is 80,000 members strong. Since Putin’s war against Ukraine, which is in violation of international law, MTWTU has been supporting Ukraine even in the face of existential threat: Seafarers’ jobs take them all over the world, whilst their families are fleeing from the war.

Olga is now pouring all her effort in organising trade union solidarity and effective help with her MTWTU colleagues and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) from Berlin. Her family and many of her friends have stayed in Ukraine. In the early stages of the war, Olga herself was also working from there. For her, it is hard being in Berlin now, “privileged”, as she calls it, yet at the same time feeling deeply connected to the people at home, for whom she is afraid and worried.

Furthermore, she is extremely troubled about the long-term destruction caused by hatred between people from two nations that are so deeply connected. Olga is there for her fellow Ukrainians in Germany and keeps in touch with home. In addition, she supports “her” union members all around the world.

On 27 April 2022, our colleagues will be taking over our twitter account to talk about all of the MTWTU’s work during the war. With absolute certainty, we will show Olga and her colleagues our unrelenting support and solidarity, for as long as it lasts.

In addition to the terror of Putin and his troops, in addition to the dead and injured, in addition to the destruction of cities, there is one question we continuously ask ourselves: how long will this go on, what will happen, what does the future look like? We ponder these questions together and together, we look towards the future, whatever it may hold.

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