Russian Labor Confederation: Workers “on Both Sides” Will Suffer Most From War

With Ukraine under attack, a Russian labor confederation boasting an estimated two million members on Friday called for a “cessation of military action” and “renewal of peaceful dialogue” between officials in Moscow and Kyiv, arguing that workers in both countries are the victims of war.

“The Confederation of Labor of Russia [KTR], as a part of the international trade union movement, considering its direct responsibilities to the working people of Russia, Ukraine, and the whole world, and recognizing its role in promoting and ensuring peace between peoples, is extremely disturbed at the events now taking place,” the organization consisting of more than 20 unions said in a statement.

“All disagreements and contradictions — however deep and however longstanding — must be resolved by negotiations, on the basis of goodwill and adherence to the principle of world peace,” KTR continued. “This vision has been an integral part of the global and anti-militarist outlook of the workers’ movement for more than a century, and has been realized through the establishment of international institutions and mechanisms tasked with ensuring peace.”

KTR noted “with great bitterness” that “it is the working people of our countries, on both sides, who are suffering as a direct result of military conflict.”

“Intensification of the conflict threatens a devastating shock to our nations’ economies and social support systems, and a fall in workers’ living standards,” added KTR. “It would open the door to a massive wave of breaches of working citizens’ labour rights.”

In light of these observations, KTR called for “the cessation of military action, as rapidly as possible, and the renewal of peaceful dialogue and coexistence between the multinational peoples of Russia and Ukraine.”

However, as Jeff Schuhrke, a lecturer in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, pointed out on social media, there is not currently an anti-war consensus among leaders of the Russian labor movement.

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia — a larger organization of 120 unions with roughly 20 million members, which Schuhrke said is “closely aligned” with Russian President Vladimir Putin — issued a statement supporting Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.