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Nuclear workers protest in Ukraine

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5 December, 2019Hundreds of members of the Nuclear Power and Industry Workers Union of Ukraine (Atomprofspilka) protested in Kiev on 4 December against state policy on nuclear industry and the dismissal of the head of publicly owned Energoatom that operates all nuclear power plants in Ukraine.

Union members also launched indefinite protests in nuclear towns across the Ukraine. Protestors have set up tents, where nuclear workers will protest after work until the government engages in a genuine dialogue over their intentions on the future of Ukrainian nuclear energy.

The protests were triggered by the minister of energy Oleksiy Orzhel's refusal to develop nuclear energy, the stop to constructing new nuclear units and the end to international cooperation. According to Atomprofspilka, this challenges a sustainable operation of the Ukrainian power system, and minister's actions are questioning the safety and reliability of Ukrainian nuclear power plants.

Valery Matov, Atomprofspilka chairman, said:

“Recent statements by the minister to limit domestic nuclear power production in favour of importing electricity from Russia and Belarus, while at the same time opposing the export of Ukrainian nuclear power to the European Union, show his desire to change from developing Ukrainian nuclear energy to destroying it.”

Atomprofspilka is demanding:

  • the immediate dismissal of the current minister of energy, Oleksiy Orzhel
  • that a separate state administration body for nuclear power enterprises is created, under the guidance of energy professionals
  • an urgent meeting on Ukrainian nuclear sector development strategy
  • the reinstatement of Yuri Nedashkovsky as president of Energoatom

Back on 28 November, Atomprofspilka members at Energoatom held a warning rally requesting the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to take measures to reinstate Yuri Nedashkovsky, as there is no other such professional in Ukraine who can provide a sufficient level of nuclear and radiation safety during the operation of nuclear power plants, being an authority for nuclear scientists in Ukraine and abroad.

IndustriALL regional secretary Vadim Borisov said:

“The lack of clear state policy for development and support of national industries leads to an increased attack on workers’ social and labour rights with reduction of jobs, lower living standards, deterioration of working conditions, and higher poverty rate among workers. IndustriALL supports Atomprofspilka’s demands and ask the government of Ukraine to develop a professional sustainable industrial policy to support national industries.

In March next year, IndustriALL will hold a conference on Sustainable Energy for Ukraine in Kiev, and we expect the participation of Ukrainian and international energy unions and employers working in coal mining, nuclear, oil and gas and electric power industries, as well as government representatives to address these crucial issues.”

Nuclear energy produces 56 percent of electricity for Ukrainian consumers and is a strategic industry for the country.