The Free Trade Union of Education and Science of Ukraine (VPONU), one of EI’s national affiliates, has shown its support for Ukraine’s signing of an Association Agreement with the European Union (EU).
“The Free Trade Union of Education and Science of Ukraine came to Kiev today to support Ukraine’s choice for an association agreement with the European Union,” VPONU President Volodymyr Fundovnyi said at a press conference held on 27 November. “Students from a number of educational institutions such as the Kiev Mohyla Academy, the Kiev University, or the Lviv National University declared their will to live and study in better conditions. These young people make up our future and they are the ones to build our society.”
How can students be taught democratic values and human rights if their educators are receiving only €200-300 per month and living under the pressure of the ruling non-democratic government imposing its educational programmes and values? he asked.
On 26 November, Fundovnyi made a speech in front of protesters (mainly young people from educational institutions) at the central Kiev square. He called upon teachers to support students in taking civil action and join the national rally.
“Only in unity are we a strong nation,” stated Fundovnyi. “Only by standing by our position will we bring change and force this government to listen to us and hear us.”
Protesters seek closer alignment with EU
On 24 November, thousands of protesters rallied across Ukraine to oppose the government’s move to delay an association agreement with the EU. Some 120,000 people gathered at European Square in Kiev chanting “Ukraine is Europe”. Among the protesters were independent trade union members coming from all Ukrainian regions to support the EU-Ukraine integration. The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) was among those leading the coordination committee of the rally at the Maidan Square.
KVPU and its activists are calling on people to fight for their rights and stand up for the demand to join the European Union.
However, special military police forces have been brought to Kiev and, since the beginning of the protests, a number of clashes between police and protesters have already been reported.
Nearly 100 KVPU miners arrived on 27 November, from Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk and Lugansk districts to join other KVPU protesters in their solidarity to make the government sign the Association Agreement with the EU.
On 28 November, other free trade unions (educators and scientists, health workers, railway workers, transport workers and street vendors) also came to Kiev to fight for a better future with the EU.
They all wish that during the Summit in Vilnius on 29 November the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement will be signed to bring Ukraine closer to the EU.
EI: EU must guarantee quality education to its citizens
“We support our Ukrainian colleagues in their struggle to ensure quality education in their country,” said Martin Rømer, the Director of EI’s European region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE). “We wish to reiterate that national Governments in the EU and worldwide must invest in quality teachers, quality school environment and educational tools.”
Rømer added that the EU must also act to guarantee quality education to all EU citizens, as a way to ensure a sustainable future and peace on the continent.
Social dialogue at national and European level and including the voice of educators is necessary, he highlighted.