Miners in Ukraine continue to lose their lives at work. A recent accident at a state-owned mine in Stepnova killed eight miners belonging to IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliate Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU).
On 2 March, there was an explosion in the Stepnova mine, and collapsed rocks caused killings. 172 miners were working at that time in the pit, and 34 of them were occupied on an emergency site. Among the killed miners, the youngest was 19 years old and the oldest 42. The eight were section foreman, mining master and six miners.
In addition, according to the union, there are victims. All the workers being in the mine at the time of explosion were brought outside while 21 were hospitalized and six are still in serious situation. Most workers suffered burns of varying degrees. Operation at the mine is temporarily suspended. 3 March in Ukraine is declared as a mourning day.
By assumption of the regional organization of NPGU in Chervonograd Vitaly Onizhuk, the cause of the tragedy was a gas leakage. The exact cause of the collapse will be established soon.
The President of Ukraine instructed the Government to examine all coal mining enterprises in the country on provision of funds and compliance with production safety. Likewise the Prime Minister and the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry flew to the place of tragedy. They have already decided on the establishment of the state Commission for the safety inspection in mines. 200 million uah (about USD 7.4 million dollars) will be allocated to the means of protection of miners.
NPGU has repeatedly raised the issue of labour protection and industrial safety in the mines of Ukraine.
Chair of the union Mychailo Volynets said:
“Last year NPGU warned about the critical situation in the coal industry. State coal mines had not received full funding from state budget. There was lack of money for providing safety, buying new equipment and modernization of mines. All this factors creates the danger of accidents at state mines. NPGU pays attention that some state mines have 50 per cent providing of personal protective equipment for miners”.
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union's Assistant General Secretary said:
"We mourn for our killed miners comrades. Our support and solidarity with their families and unions".
"Ukraine's mining health and safety record is completely unacceptable. IndustriALL Global Union urges the Ukrainian Government to take necessary measures without delay".
Later this month, IndustriALL Global Union and International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) will conduct a special mission in Ukraine with a series of meetings with political authorities, trade unions and civil society.