Adding Insult to Injury in Ukraine’s Labour Market: The Dangers of IMF/World Bank Liberal Plan for Ukraine’s Post-War Recovery and the Promise of Social Economy Alternatives
AbstractThis paper discusses burgeoning crisis in Ukraine’s labour market, defined by steady decline of standard employment relations, heightened levels of social and economic precarity, and rise in labour migration; elucidates dangers of proposed IMF/WB plans for Ukraine’s post-war economic recovery; and argues that social economy provides more helpful perspective for economic development in Ukraine. This study explains that precariousness in Ukraine’s employment has been well-manifested since the early 1990s due to the neoliberal transition reforms. Subsequently, between 1992 and 2019, the economic migration from Ukraine has annually averaged at 12 percent of the population aged 15–70 (UNICEF). In 2021, Ukraine was considered the poorest country in Europe (World Bank). Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has only worsened Ukraine’s poverty and exacerbated the precarity in employment and social life. Due to the war, Ukraine’s finances have been completely destroyed, but international financial donors—IMF and World Bank—have attached extreme structural conditionality to loan agreements with Ukraine—demanding wide-ranging free-market reforms, including – most problematically -- a rapid transition to a globally-integrated neoliberal model of cheap ununionized labour. In August 2022 Ukraine’s government unanimously approved Labor Law, allowing labour flexibilization and permitting zero-hour contracts—measures that result in further acceleration of labour precarity.
It is argued that perspectives of social economy, emphasizing progressive reshaping of economic evolution through ameliorative economic policies, provide more hopeful outlook for Ukraine’s recovery, in which the common good will be fruitfully pursued, social justice created, participatory processes throughout the economy nurtured, and economic democracy enhanced.