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New ILO Report Paints Grim Ukrainian Picture - 2001-08-24


A new report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) paints a bleak picture of life in Ukraine, 10 years after it gained independence. The ILO says it is a country where unemployment is high and living standards are low.

Ukraine is celebrating its 10 years of independence with a big military parade and other festivities. But a report by the International Labor Organization says that ordinary people in Ukraine have little reason to celebrate.

According to the report, Ukrainian workers earn an average of $17 a month. The report says more than four in five Ukrainians describe themselves as poor with no hope of improving their lives.

Guy Standing heads the ILO's socioeconomic security program. He says 84 percent of adults surveyed in Ukraine expect, when they grow old, to be living in poverty without any health care. "As you can imagine, the vast majority report themselves as very worried about the future," Mr. Standing said. "This is a huge country on the edge of Europe and the picture that emerges is one of deep impoverishment and a deep pessimism about their immediate future."

More than 8,000 households were surveyed for this study. The report finds big discrepancies in unemployment figures. The official rate stands at four percent, while labor force surveys put the jobless rate at over 12 per cent. Mr. Standing says the real rate of unemployment is much, much worse.

"A very large proportion of firms have been putting workers on unpaid leave, so they count as employees, so they inflate the figures on employment, deflate the figures on unemployment and give a misleading impression," he says. "And, to compound the problem, of course, if they are on unpaid leave, they can not get access to unemployment benefits and they can not get access to wages, so they are hit doubly.

The ILO report says 40 per cent of those working had not been paid in the last three months.

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