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Ukrainian coal miners protest against destruction of their industry

24 April, 2015Thousands of coal miners from all over Ukraine came to Kiev on 22 April to rally near the Cabinet of Ministers. Workers promise to keep protesting until the country’s leaders finally listen to their demands.

A day before, on 21 April, the Third Ukrainian Miner’s Congress took place in Kiev, organized by IndustriALL Global Union affiliates Coal Mining Workers’ Union of Ukraine and Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine. Nearly 800 delegates from all over the country gathered to discuss the difficult situation in the Ukrainian coal mining industry. They demanded that the President convenes the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine meeting to elaborate further plan of actions due to the industry’s difficult situation.

The Congress also demanded the government to eliminate wage arrears, restore social guarantees for workers, set fair price for Ukrainian coal – not less than the price of the imported coal, stop the import of coal and provide financial support to the mines and industry in general, as well as withdraw from the mines closure policy. The resignation of Volodymyr Demchyshyn, Energy and Coal Industry Minister of Ukraine, was also demanded.

Thousands of coal miners protesting outside the Cabinet of Ministers also asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Mikhailo Volynets, chairman of the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine, warned the country leaders that the miners will launch nation-wide strikes if authorities ignore their demands.

In January 1,500 coal miners from IndustriALL affiliates across the Ukraine picketed the Cabinet of Ministers building in Kiev demanding that the government review the state budget for 2015. It should include 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. Some measures have been taken to pay a part of wage arrears, but the problem is far from being solved.