1,500 coal miners from IndustriALL Global Union affiliates across the Ukraine launched a protest action picketing the Cabinet of Ministers building today (28 January) in the capital Kiev.
Workers are demanding that the government reviews the state budget for 2015 and includes the necessary funding to pay wage arrears, save mining operations, improve health and safety, and restore social guarantees for workers and retirees in the industry.
Social benefits such as miners' preferential taxation and free domestic fuel, have already been abolished, and a lower threshold for the pension taxation has been introduced. Some workers have not received their wages since August 2014. Wage arrears now amount to 600 million hryvnia (USD 38 million) and keep rising.
At the same time, the state budget is earmarking the closure of coal mining enterprises. The government’s decision to withdraw financial support will result in mass unemployment in the industry. More than 50,000 workers could lose their jobs and as many as 150,000 people, including workers' families, could be without any income at all. Towns and villages where coal mining enterprises offer the only place to work, will be thrown into decline.
Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union urged the Prime Minister of the country to review the state budget of Ukraine for 2015 in line with the demands of coal miners.