It is a clear morning in Kiev, and the thermometer shows -12 degrees Celsius. Svetlana, 40, is waiting in front of the factory—a subsidiary of a well-known American multinational company producing women’s underwear—where she has worked for many years.
“How much do I earn per month? Seventy-five euros. We are basically working per piece, because if the monthly production goals are not met we have to do unpaid overtime.” This is one story among many similar ones in this poor country, crushed by penury, where the local currency—the hryvnia—has lost 15 percent of its value over the last three months on the currency exchanges, because the central bank says it has run out of reserves to prop it up.
“The situation at that factory is well known,” they tell us at the trade union headquarters. “Unfortunately,” the union official adds, “there is still a two-year moratorium in effect on inspections of companies in Ukraine. So our hands are tied.”