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370 Kyrgyz miners reinstated after mass layoffs

17 January, 2018Mining and Metallurgical Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan (MMTUK), an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union, managed to safeguard labour contracts with 370 employees of the Chinese mining company Full Gold Mining in the Jalal-Abad region of Kyrgyzstan. The employer agreed not to conduct mass layoffs and transfer all the benefits from the previous labour contracts.

On 8 January, representatives of the trade union, management of Full Gold Mining and Kyrgyz state committee for industry, energy and subsoil use, overseeing the sector, met at a round table to resolve the labour dispute. At the end of last year, on 31 December 2017, the previous labour contracts at Full Gold Mining expired.

Referring to the financial difficulties, management unilaterally decided to change working conditions. In violation of the national legislation, the amendments included 30 per cent reduction of wages and cancellation of bonuses, such as food allowance, financial support for professional development, as well as tenure and shift work allowances. Miners refused to accept worsened working conditions and got fired.

The company employs about 600 people, due to the technological features 200 people of them are occupied on a seasonal basis from April to November. About 30 people are management and security staff. Thus, the decision of the company affected almost all the workers of Full Gold Mining.

The workers appealed to the MMTUK asking to protect their rights and avoid layoffs. The union conducted an informational campaign and received support from the authorities, public and mass media. In result, the company looked awkward in the eyes of national authorities and company leadership in China. Finally, MMTUK asked the national government to intervene in the conflict.

Following difficult negotiations, management has been obliged to extend labour contracts from 1 January 2018 without any cuts and conclude a new collective agreement for 2018-2020 with the trade union committee. 

Workers resumed operation on 15 January. They won’t be paid for those two weeks of downtime; however, their tenure will not be interrupted either.

Full Gold Mining got the license for the development of Ishtamberdy field in southern Kyrgyzstan for 20 years since 2011. Currently, the union is seeking conclusion of open-ended labour contracts for the company employees.

Eldar Tadjibayev, MMTUK President, states,

“In my opinion, the negotiations have been extremely successful. All employees are reinstated. The salary level is saved, some of the employees got even a little increase. At the same time, we agreed to consider a salary increase once the enterprise starts receiving profits”.

Vadim Borisov, regional secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, said,

“We congratulate our affiliate, MMTUK, with this victory, thanks to their negotiating experience workers enjoy a successful resolution of this dispute.”