In Background, Ukraine

By Alexey Albu, published on Union Borotba (Struggle) website, March 27, 2015, translated to English by Greg Butterfield

While the whole country watched with enthusiasm the fun showdown of the oligarchs over Ukrnafta state oil company, April 1 is approaching. And this date will not be fun. Starting April 1 this year, a number of surprises from the Kiev government will come into force.

Alexey Albu

Alexey Albu

The first of these surprises will be felt by women who were born in the month of April and had already prepared to draw a pension. The surprise is that they will have to work another six months. However, they have something to celebrate, because their colleagues who were born in October will have to work an extra year until retirement. Those who were due to draw a pension in five years time will now have to wait seven and a half years. In ten years, the retirement age for women and men will be the same. Such is the junta’s savings plan.*

But the rest of Ukraine’s 40 million inhabitants will get an April surprise in May, when it comes time to pay April’s utility tariffs. Most fuel prices will go up. Rather, they have already started rising since the decision on rates has already been made. Alas, the government will calculate the prices in a way that not everyone understands. So for those who do not use gas for heating in April, one hour of cooking on a gas burner will cost 2 hryvnia. Using the oven for an hour will cost about 7 hryvnia. By comparison, now, in March, gas costs 6 times less.

For those who use gas to heat a house, the increase will be a bit less, but in general, gas prices will rise more than threefold.

Pensioners in Ukraine, photo by Unian News

Pensioners in Ukraine, photo by Unian News

Also, electricity tariffs will increase by 20 percent, the price for hot water will rise one and a half times if it is delivered centrally, while the rates for central steam heating will increase 1.75 times.

With regard to salaries and pensions, there is no surprise: the minimum wage and pensions will remain the same. And given the collapse of the economy, they will not be increasing. Unemployment is growing, especially hidden unemployment, a situation where a person has a job on paper, but in fact does not work, or not every day.

Many people ask: What is the government thinking when with one hand it establishes such tariff hikes, and on the other freezes salaries and pensions? It is obvious that when people must pay almost all their income for utility bills, then paying them becomes suicidal. And once people stop paying, all the utilities will go bankrupt and fall apart. Especially since they are already on their last legs.

It would be easy to say that the government officials do not think, but alas, this is not the case. In fact, raising the retirement age and utility rates are requirements of the IMF bailout. And the gang of jackals which is now in power is only interested in plundering these loans. It is for the sake of short-term profit that the junta has created this situation, which will eventually destroy the whole country, plunging it into the Stone Age.

The government does not care about the fate of ordinary Ukrainians; it is not interested in how single pensioners and the poor are supposed to survive.

There is only one solution to the current situation – removing the junta of neo-Nazis and oligarchs. And not just their overthrow, but also the establishment of a new order based on changing the economic model and political structure of the country to the rule of the working people. That is, socialism.

* In December 2014, the Ukrainian government announced it would raise the pensionable retirement age for both men and women, in stages, to 65. In 2011, it was 60 for men and was set to rise to 60, from 55, for women born in 1961 and later.

 

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