Some 800 miners in the Ukraine took part in a mass protest in front of the Ukrainian parliament on 5 July, demanding payment of salary arrears and the adoption of a law in support of the coal industry.
Members of IndustriALL Global Union affiliates, the Coal Mining Workers’ Union of Ukraine, and the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU), from across the country gathered outside the parliament, known as the Verkhovna Rada, in the capital Kiev, holding placards proclaiming: ''Stop destroying the coal industry'' and ''The hungry miner is a shame on Ukraine’’.
Salaries have not been paid for two-and-a-half months, totaling UAH 1.1 billion (US$41.7 million). The miners’ families are driven to despair and many workers are forced buy food on credit, writing the amount in special books.
On 4 July, the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine reallocated UAH 324 million (US$12.3 million) saved for restructuring, including mine closure payments, to the miners’ salaries. However, these funds will only be enough to pay for one month.
Besides wage payments, miners are demanding that the parliament adopts draft law № 8362 that allocates financial support to the coal industry owned by the state. This financial assistance will prevent the closure of state mines and the decay of mining towns.
Viktor Turmanov, president of Trade Union of Coal Industry Workers of Ukraine, stated:
“We need 226 votes in parliament, so the draft law was adopted and the industry received UAH 2.8 billion (US$106 million). This amount will be enough to pay the salary until the end of the year. We will continue to protest in support of the draft law until we succeed”.
Mychailo Volynets, president of NPGU, said:
“Miners see a systemic reduction in coal output and a significant increase in coal imports. They don’t understand why there is no clear and effective programme for the development of the coal industry in Ukraine. Another problem is the appointment of incompetent people, as well as overseers, at key positions in the state-owned enterprises of the Ukrainian coal industry.”
NPGU has formulated the miners’ demands as follows:
- To pay the wage arrears immediately;
- To bring back into public ownership the coal seams of the Kotlyarevska mine and the 1/3 Novogrodivskaya mine of the state-owned enterprise, Selidivvuhillia;
- To eliminate the influence of so-called "overseers" at all state-owned enterprises of the coal industry of Ukraine;
- To approve an effective programme for the development of the coal industry for the next ten years.
On 2 July, miners started an underground protest at the №10 Novovolynskа mine in the Volyn region of Ukraine. Miners are demanding payment of wages and allocation of funds for the completion of the mine.
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, says:
“Ukrainian miners are fighting hard for their rights. Only last month they held a mass rally in front of the Verkhovna Rada, and again they are forced to protest. We support all our affiliates’ demands and call on the Ukrainian government to resolve the critical situation as soon as possible.”