Workers at the ArcelorMittal-Kryvyi Rih steel plant with the support of the IndustriALL affiliate Trade Union of Workers of Metallurgical and Mining Industries of Ukraine (PMGU) want to sign a new collective agreement ensuring wage increases and safe working conditions.
After 26 hours of negotiations, the union and the company management signed an agreement to create a conciliation commission on 4 May. The stumbling block was the issue of public reporting. Management wanted the discussions to be held behind closed doors, which the union refused. When the union instead demanded a meeting with the CEO of ArcelorMittal-Kryvyi Rih, they were stopped by security and police.
Around 400 workers gathered in front of the plant management building to support the union. Both parties agreed to include a pledge to make a joint statement at the end of each meeting in the agreement. Otherwise, the media is to publish the two statements side by side so that employees can see the differences.
The conciliation commission will hold its first substantive meeting in six days.
Natalia Marinyuk, chair of the PMGU trade union committee at ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, says:
“We are not asking for illegal action to fulfil our demands. Therefore, I urge the employer to stop evading conciliation procedures and to start negotiations with the union to develop and to make a joint decision on the labour collective demands”.
According to the current collective agreement, negotiations on salary increase were to begin in the fourth quarter of 2017. However, the management has so far evaded them.
Moreover, on 27 March, management tried to disrupt a union general assembly by announcing another venue. However, the conference managed to approve the employees’ demands, as well as the structure of the body authorized to represent their interests in dispute.
Workers are demanding wage increases from 400 to 1,000 euros per month. Currently, an appeal to the CEO has been signed by almost 12,000 people; more than half of the employees.
The workers also insist on carrying out a detailed inspection of all buildings and constructions because of the tragic incident on 3 March when a roof collapsed, killing a 25-year-old contractor employee.
In addition, they demand an end the to anti-social and anti-union policy implemented by the management, especially by the HR-director.
IndustriALL Global Union and affiliated unions representing tens of thousands of ArcelorMittal workers around the world sent a solidarity letter to PMGU in support of their struggle.
Valter Sanches, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, and leaders of these unions stated:
“We fully support PMGU’s demands that ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih management end its union-busting, replace Olena Pylypenko as head of human resources, end its bad faith negotiations over wages and other issues, improve safety and enter into genuine social dialogue.”