Labor Congress

Labor Congress (Трудовий конґрес; Trudovyi kongres, aka Конґрес трудового народу України; Kongres trudovoho narodu Ukrainy [Congress of the Working People of Ukraine]). An all-Ukrainian legislative assembly convened by the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic in Kyiv on 22 January 1919. To counteract more effectively the Bolshevik influence in the cities, the Directory and the representatives of Ukrainian political parties decided at their meeting in Vinnytsia at the beginning of 1918 to base their political support on the so-called labor principle. According to that principle political power in the counties and the gubernias was to belong to councils of workers, peasants, and the working intelligentsia, excluding landowners and capitalists, and the central government was to rest on a labor congress. Instructions on the election to the Congress of the Working People of Ukraine, issued on 26 December 1918, provided for 593 deputies, 528 of them from the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) and 65 from the Western Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR). Because the Directory did not control all Ukrainian territory, the elections could not be conducted throughout Ukraine. The first and only session of the Labor Congress lasted from 22 January to 28 January 1919; it was held in the building of the Kyiv Russian Opera. Almost 400 delegates, including a 36-member delegation from the Ukrainian National Rada (of the ZUNR) and representatives of the Polish, Russian, and Jewish minorities, attended the session. After failing to agree on a chairman of the presidium the congress elected three vice-chairmen—Semen Vityk (a member of the Ukrainian Social Democratic party in Galicia), Dmytro Odryna (member of the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries from the Peasant Association), and Tymofei Starukh (from a block of Galician parties)— and five secretaries—S. Bachynsky (a Ukrainian Socialist Revolutionary from the Peasant Association), V. Zlotchansky (from the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party), I. Bisk (from the Russian Social Democratic Workers' party), L. Havryliuk (from the Russian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries), and Mykola Vorony from the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (Independentists). On the evening of 22 January the congress ratified the union of the UNR and ZUNR that had been proclaimed earlier in the day. On the last day of its session it approved the policies of the Directory and transferred its powers to the Directory until the next session. It also set up six parliamentary commissions—defense, agrarian affairs, budget, foreign affairs, food supply, and culture and education—but in the circumstances those could not perform their duties. Finally, the congress adopted the principle of universal suffrage for future parliamentary and local elections. Military setbacks forced the Labor Congress to end its session prematurely.

Khrystiuk, P. Zamitky i materiialy do istoriï ukraïns'koï revoliutsiï 1917–1920 rr. (Vienna 1922; repr, New York 1969)
Siropolko, S. ‘Diial'nist' Kul'turno-osvitn'oï komisiï Trudovoho kongresu,’ Kalendar Dnipro na 1939 rik (Lviv 1938)
Stakhiv, M. Ukraïna v dobi Dyrektoriï UNR, 3 (Scranton 1963)

Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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