"At first, I thought I would be working there for just a short time, so I accepted the work without contract, and within 2 years there was no proposal from the boss to transform this into a contract, until the law came in"
Larysa, 24 years, Ukraine
"I come from a village around 300km from L'viv, near the border with Belarus. In my home region, workers are employed in sausage-making factories, furniture manufacturing and milk and bread production, but I came to L'viv to continue studies in food technology at a technical college."
At that time when Larysa started her studies, the government was offering education for free, however, the students still had to pay for their exams, so Larysa had to find work to pay for her exams.
"At first it was difficult to live in Lviv. My parents were not living together and there were problems with money".
After finishing 4 years of study, Larysa now works as a bar maid in a student's café. She has been working there for five years, but for the first two years without a contract. When the government brought in regulations to force employers to have a contract, Larysa was finally granted a contract.
"At first, I thought I would be working there for just a short time, so I accepted the work without contract, and within 2 years there was no proposal from the boss to transform this into a contract, until the law came in"Larysa works alone in the bar. Her tasks include serving at the bar, cleaning and making sure the restaurant is in order. She works 13 hours per day and normally takes 2 or 3 days off per month, and religious holidays. Her holidays depend on her. She receives a salary of 2000 UAH per month (approx €190). It is actually higher than what is written in her contract, as she receives bonus money informally (undeclared). If she misses a day of work, her salary will be less than 2000 UAH, and it's not possible to meet the expenses.
Larysa says she really needs a salary of 2500 UAH to survive in her current shared accommodation, but if she has to live alone, she needs around 3500 UAH. Her income is spent on food, rent, clothing, and when necessary, she sends money to her mother.
"In my village, the people didn't feel the economic crisis so much, because they grow their own food and vegetables. But I felt it here in L'viv because the price of food increased a lot, without any increase in salary."
Larysa is not happy with her working situation. The only motivation to stay there is the good relationship she has with her boss.
"There are a lot of alcoholics in the bar, and they create problems. There are a lot of unkind people and I have to clean up after them. "
If she could change something about her work it would be to have more free time.
"With more free time I could sleep more, visit friends and visit my home. I'm hoping to find another job, and even if I don't find it, I will leave.
"In the future I would like to do more studies by correspondence, and to have children, but I don't feel good about the future of Ukraine. There is a lot of corruption, and I think it is one of the worst countries in the world. We cannot even take credit because the repayments are too high. The President doesn't want to give the green light to young people. I don't know anyone who thinks Ukraine is a good country".
"I dream of living in another country. My family thought about going to Belarus because I have a sister who lives there and she says it is much better than Ukraine."