Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” presents a new video, whose heroine is a female mineworker Alla Latner from Ukraine. She stands for the abolition of the prohibition of underground work for women and for the need to preserve protective measures and improve working conditions.
In modern Ukraine, the issue of legalizing women’s underground labor is of utmost importance. In December 2017 Ukraine abolished the list of professions prohibited for women, but the prohibition of underground work for them is still in force: this was explained by the existence of the Convention No. 45 (1935) of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The Ukrainian government and governments of some other countries, including Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia, refuse to abolish prohibition for women to work underground referring to this outdated Convention, which they supposedly need to comply with it.
The example of Alla Latner shows very convincingly that women worked and continue to work underground in hazardous and harmful conditions. Protecting these women’s right to motherhood, to having additional leave and other support measures, is impossible without the abolition of the discriminatory prohibition on underground work for them. In fact, the miners are often “invisible” (and “in accordance with the law” women should not work underground at all)? that is why employers so easily dismiss the legal requirements to improve working conditions in mines.
Despite significant efforts on the part of the Ukrainian civil society, the country has yet to abolish the professional prohibitions for women. Ukraine has missed the period for denunciation of Convention No. 45 (May 30, 2017 – May 30, 2018), although this issue had been already introduced on the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament (but MPs simply did not have time to discuss it on their session of May 24, 2018).
However, it should be noted that denunciation of the very technical and obviously obsolete Convention No. 45 is not even obligatory from the point of view of the ILO itself. ILO’s more recent Convention No. 111 (1958), which is fundamental and stands for abolition of discrimination in labor, automatically repeals Convention No. 45, which prohibits women’s labor in mines. More specifically, implementation of the ILO’s anti-discrimination Convention No. 111 is being monitored by ILO experts. In particular, as early as in 2010, the ILO Committee of Experts recommended that Russia reviewed its approach towards obsolete measures aimed “to protect women” and the resulting discrimination in the labor sphere.
ILO’s Convention No. 176 on safety and hygiene, in fact, also repeals Convention No. 45. The former was ratified by Ukraine in 2011/ More recently the ILO experts in 2016 called upon the Ukrainian government to denounce the Convention No. 45.