Aviation and rail workers face labour discrimination

In Ukraine it is quite common for written labour contracts to be drawn up in the transport sphere, including aviation and the railways. Employers effectively force their staff to sign such a contract the provisions of which have more negative, than positive consequences. They forget that a labour contract can be drawn up only with certain categories of staff.

The main social danger of a labour contract is that it is for a certain period. It is this which constitutes discrimination of workers and gives considerable advantages to the employer, especially if we are talking about a short-term contract (1-3 years). Analysis of labour relations shows that the main reason for not extending a labour contract is that the employee did not meet the employer’s expectations; did not carry out his or her duties as per the contract; infringed legislation; did not follow ethical norms; etc.  Employees therefore do everything to create a good impression on the employers, and the latter are able to manipulate them.

Many flight attendants, for example, complaint that they have to put up with indecent remarks or behaviour from their colleagues or bosses.

They have to give up on the idea of being paid on time, or having a stable timetable, and they can forget about weekends altogether, since the contracts with aviation staff do not clearly set out conditions of pay and material provisions, and don’t spell out the work regime.

Problems even arise with leaving aviation jobs. Labour contracts more often than not stipulate serious amounts which workers have to pay their employers if the contract is terminated early through their fault. The airlines claim that the amount of compensation for losses is justified because the employees received training at the expense of the employer.

We would note that the signing of a labour contract in aviation is more like compulsion, than a voluntary agreement.

The Plenum of the Supreme Court in Item 7 of Resolution No. 9 from 6 November 1992 “On the practice of examination by the courts of labour contracts” explained that the owner or the body authorized by him can demand that an employee working according to a labour agreement can demand a contract only if the employee is in the category of members of staff with whom, according to legislation, contracts can be drawn up (for example, heads of enterprises).

The list of Ukrainian laws which allow for contracts to be drawn up with certain categories of employees is contained in the Labour and Social Policy Ministry Letter from 6 May 2000 “On the contract form for a labour agreement and list of laws with which it can be applied”,

It is interesting that the list does not contain aviation workers and it is therefore unclear why employers of air travel companies force their employees to sign a labour contract.

Infringement of the requirements for legislative definition of the sphere of a contract may be grounds for finding the conditions of work according to a contract invalid in accordance with Article 9 of the Code of Labour Laws which worsens employees’ position in comparison with Ukrainian legislation.

This needs to be known when the suggestion is made that a contract be drawn up. It is no secret however that very often employees are given no choice.

There are examples known of employees of the transport sphere appealing to the court against the actions of the management of their business, but it has to be said that there is extremely little positive court practice in this sphere. Some of those cases have even reached higher courts however they have thus far remained deaf to the appeals of employees. There remains the hope that the European Court of Human Rights may give their assessment of how labour rights are defended by courts in Ukraine.


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