Bringing the war home: my experience with a workers' aid convoy in Ukraine and a call for support

A few weeks ago G1ps was contacted by a sister union in Poland Inicyatywa Pracownicza [https://www.ozzip.pl/english-news] to join a international workers aid convoy.

After quite a bit of understandable fear and hesitation I – a cultural worker in G1ps – joined the convoy, leaving my home in Vilnius Lithuania to assemble with comrades in the leftist organization Sotsyalnyi Rukh  in Lviv and deliver 800kg of emergency aid supplies for the Independent Labor Union of Metalworkers and Miners in the city of Kryvyi Rih (60km away from the frontlines of the war). Medicine, first aid kits, dry food, ready-made baby food, as well as batteries and generators were all financed and coordinated by this international network of workers unions.

My encounters in Lviv were transformative, empowering, and overwhelming. The first nights sleep under bomb sirens and (fortunately) unsubstantiated sounds of jets welcomed us alongside our dear comrades from Sotsyalnyi Rukh.

On our second day in the city we went to the storage facility and completed our foremost mission, delivering the goods. 

Finally, we assembled with Ukrainian unionists, activists and leftist theorists for a May Day at the historical Palace of Culture, built and financed by workers themselves in the 1930s. At the assembly issues were shared on the situation of workers, everyday mental health, and the war as experienced by women. Also discussed was the various mutual-aid and humanitarian relief efforts carried out by unions and social movements across Ukraine. Important from a leftist standpoint is the call for the canceling of Ukrainian debtbased on the dual critique of the neo-liberal state which has shown itself inept in the face of social crisis and the IMF who suffocates the public sector, stifling efforts to reorganize the social infrastructure. 

The scarcity is real, I saw men buying their own uniforms from simple vendors on the street.

Finally the story of waiting at the bus stop and witnessing the soldier together with his partner and child all crying as one side prepared to leave to fight against imperialist war in the East while the other went off to the economic war in the West – the war of survival and migrant life.

As Magda from the Amazon workers branch of Inicyatywa voiced in our assembly, the economic war is in our yard, and as workers we are called to take up arms alongside our Ukrainian comrades to fight together for a life worth living while continuing our international solidarity efforts to support armed workers resistance in the other war not so far away.

How To Support

The next aid convoy is already being planned for next month.

ILNSS and comrades from the network will finance the logistics of donations, which will be bought according to the orientation of the Ukrainian working class’s needs.

Transfers can be made to:

Ogolnopolski Zwiazek Zawodowy Inicjatywa Pracownicza

Koscielna 4 street, 60-538 Poznan

Volkswagen bank directed

Code BIC/SWIFT: INGBPLPW

IBAN PL88 2130 0004 2001 0577 6570 0001

The amount received will be reported, as well as all the work that is carried out by the workers’ aid convoy.

 

 

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Hello, my name is Amaechi Uche Ani, I am a citizen of Nigeria. I attend the International School of Law and Bussiness. I currently work as a volunteer as a photographer. I joined G1PS because when I moved to Lithuania I fell into a few bad hands including where I was making ends meet as kitchen staff but the management lied to me about the contract and pays me bellow the minimum wage. With no connections and people to report to, I came across G1PS on “Facebook” and was moved to take a step. I was taken with love and care by union members and I am grateful for the success on my case. That is the reason why I want to offer whatever help I can give to make this union grow!”
 
 
 

G1PS supports an international campaign to cancel Ukraine’s foreign debt

Solidarity with Ukraine? Let’s write off public debt!
The Ukrainian people have revolted against the imperialist loot and continue to fight in a heroic war for their dignity and sovereignty. Now that Ukrainian civil society groups are asking for the country’s debt to be canceled, we must show that our solidarity is not just a slogan. Under the strict conditions of international creditors, Ukraine had to sacrifice the lion’s share of its budget after the Russian aggression in 2014 in order to pay off its debts. This country must now be relieved of this burden – it is more important than ever. In the face of Russian invasion, the country must supply armaments and food supplies to the army and territorial defense units. Resources are needed to protect the civilian population, provide housing for refugees and medicines for the injured. The money that Ukraine spends trying to cover its debt would benefit it here and now. Let’s cancel Ukraine’s debt!

Let us stop forcing Ukraine to pay its wrecking debt
Even before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was one of the poorest and most indebted countries in Europe. The decades in which corrupt governments acted in disregard to the people have weakened Ukraine’s economy and made it dependent on international loans. Russia’s aggression in 2014 only exacerbated the problem. After the economic restructuring of 2015, the debt burden of Ukraine has become unbearable. Every year, Ukraine has to spend about 10 – 15% of GDP to cover its debts. After giving so much money Ukraine can no longer develop its economy, it loses the money that is needed to save the state. Now that Ukraine must defend itself against Russian imperialism, the demand to repay debts becomes even more painful. Ukraine needs your support. Let’s cancel Ukraine’s debt!

An investment for the future
Bombardment and the targeted destruction of economic potential are costing Ukraine a great deal. According to the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, the losses in infrastructure and production have already reached 560 billion USD. We can be sure that Ukraine will need huge financial resources if it wants to recover from the war. If we want to help Ukraine, debt relief must be the first step. The current debt will be an obstacle to recovery, spending a large part of economic aid to cover it, and blocking the development of large-scale investment. By freeing Ukraine from this burden, we can create opportunities to invest in the needs of society and social spending, as well as opportunities to use the capital we need more freely. Ukraine must not be left to pay off its current debt and must not be condemned to new loans with equally strict repayment terms. Let’s cancel Ukraine’s debt!

The cost of debt must be borne by the European Central Bank
At the end of 2021, Ukraine’s external debt amounted to 130 billion USD. This is less than 1% of the annual GDP of the European Union. It would not cost us much to take over the debt settlement costs or to write them off altogether. At the same time, for Ukraine, it would guarantee big changes for the better. If we write off the harmful and unjust external debt of Ukraine, we will be able to help its society, which is fighting for its very existence. It will be an investment in Ukraine’s future – its reconstruction. This will free her from the clutches of the belt-tightening associated with the loans. There is no doubt about it. Let’s cancel public debt!

Let’s stop Putin
We have no doubt that Putin-led Russia has illegally attacked a sovereign state without any provocation. We are categorically opposed to a system in which a stronger force imposes its will on a weaker one – that is how we should view Moscow’s actions. Therefore, we must do everything we can to support Ukraine’s struggle against the  imperialist aggressor. Ukraine’s debt write-off is an effective way to support its fight against Putin. The money Ukraine spends to cover its debt can be used to strengthen its defense capabilities. They can cover the supply of armaments and food supplies to the army and territorial defense units. These financial resources can also be used to protect the civilian population, provide housing for the homeless and provide medicines for the injured. We must stop Putin. Let’s cancel Ukraine’s debt!

 

Help For The Refugees

The war in Ukraine has forced millions to flee their country and seek refuge in other countries. Peaceful people are withdrawing from Russia, and the number of working citizens of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon and other countries is growing in Lithuania. G1PS union provides free legal and material support to all people. We strive to ensure that people who come to Lithuania know their rights and are not deceived or exploited for profit. We will disseminate information in Ukrainian, Russian and English, and will help people who contact us. Unfortunately, the reality is that there are many unscrupulous businesses in Lithuania that can even use a war situation to earn extra money for themselves.
If you are looking for help or know about violations of employment rights, feel free to contact G1PS in a language that suits you: g1ps@g1ps.lt, +370 6 946 4695
 
 

G1PS joins international aid convoy to Ukraine

G1PS joins international aid to Ukraine
This week, a G1PS representative will join an international trade union aid convoy to Ukraine to meet trade union representatives and deliver humanitarian aid to democratic workers’ organisations in Ukraine.
This humanitarian aid is organised in cooperation with the Ukrainian social movement Соціальний рух and was initiated by the international trade union solidarity network: OZZ Inicjatywa Pracownicza (Poland), CSP – Conlutas (Brazil), Union Syndicale Solidaires (France) and Adl Cobas (Italy).
The convoy is an expression of international workers’ support against the Russian invasion.
If you want to support this humanitarian action financially, you can donate to the account of the Polish trade union Inicjatywa Pracownicza OZZ:
PL88 2130 0004 2001 0577 6570 0001
Volkswagen Bank
Purpose: “Donation for humanitarian aid convoy”

G1PS helps teacher win against private school

 
In February, we published a story about Stembridge, a private school in Vilnius, which has already been featured in several newspapers. Parents were paying €5,000-6,000 a year for their children’s education, but the school did not give employment contracts to teachers and tried to get away with paying pennies for contract work.
Today, we want to celebrate the news that the Labour Dispute Committee has ruled in favour of the teacher, represented by G1PS, who was not only awarded the promised monthly salary, but also pay for extra weekend work and interest for unpaid wages. The total amount of compensation awarded to Daiva amounts to more than €2,000 after tax. We congratulate Daiva on her victory in this six-month long case and wish her not to have to suffer such treatment by her employers.
If you are faced with employers reluctant to pay wages or recognize your employment relationship, please contact us and we will do our best to help.
 

Celebrate 1 May with G1PS

We invite you to celebrate International Labour Day and spend Sunday afternoon together in Vilnius Vingio Park, in the barbecue area next to the pedestrian bridge over the Neris River.
The 1st of May coincides with Mother’s Day this year. To mark the occasion, trade unions are inviting you to talk about work that is still unseen and undervalued: caring for children or relatives, work that still falls largely on women’s shoulders.
As one crisis follows another, what keeps our spirits up in our daily lives? What does it mean to “balance” long working hours and taking care of relatives? Why has Lithuania made almost no progress on gender equality in the last decade, and how does this affect us? Are families really being torn apart by “culture wars”,  or is it more about financial insecurity? How do single parents survive? What do we, public authorities, trade unions and the NGO sector, need to do to change the situation for the better?
We must also think about Ukrainian mothers. The burden of caring falls even heavier on women in times of war. They are forced to flee, to work and to take care of their children and older relatives. And who will take care of them?
The microphone is open to your stories about how you manage to take care of yourself and your loved ones, what challenges different families and individuals face in these turbulent times.
The second part of the event is entertainment. There will be a trivia quiz about the labour movement (registration will be on site), a children’s area, board games and books to read and buy, and live music.
And for a picnic, there will be outdoor barbecues. Fuel will be provided by the organisers and everyone will bring their own food – you can share or not. For their part, the organisers promise to share with everyone.

Gegužės 1-osios piknikas: Ką reiškia rūpintis vieni kitais?

Allocate 0.6% of your income tax to G1PS

Thank you for being with us!  In 2021, we raised twice as much from your support as in 2020. The money allows us to fund free labour law advice, support the organisation’s activities, fund the travel of organisers and activists, and help our members who are facing material or legal difficulties. To enable us to continue to thrive, we ask you to support our activities this year by contributing 0.6% of your personal income tax.

* Note that support for trade unions in Lithuania has a separate line, so besides us, you will also be able to support other organisations. If you don’t support any of the trade unions, 0.6% of your tax will go back to the state.

Tax number: 304866811
👉 How to support us: http://g1ps.lt/paremkite-mus/
 

Free legal advice on labour law

Due to the war in Ukraine millions of people are forced to leave their home and seek asylum in other countries. Peaceful citizens of Russia are also fleeing the country. The number of working people from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and other countries in Lithuania is growing rapidly. The May 1 Labour Union (G1PS) provides free legal assistance and material help to all people, no matter where they come from. We strive to ensure that people who come to Lithuania know their rights and are not deceived or exploited for profit. We share information in Russian and English. Unfortunately, the current reality is harsh and there are still many businesses in Lithuania that can and will use even war for that extra euro of profit.
 
If you seek help or noticed any labour law violations, feel free to contact G1PS in any language convienient: g1ps@g1ps.lt, +37064881853