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IndustriALL joins mourning for five killed miners in Bosnia

11 September, 2014Yet again this week mining trade unions are forced to mark the avoidable deaths of fellow miners, killed on 4 September by lax and underfunded safety procedures.

The last of the five Bosnian miners’ bodies was recovered late Sunday, 7 September. The five were killed after an earthquake triggered a collapse inside the central Raspotocje mine near the town of Zenica, central Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The 3.5-magnitude earthquake caused explosive fractures in the rocks as flammable methane gas pockets were released. The collapsed shafts trapped 34 miners, 29 of whom were rescued within 24 hours of the accident. The joint memorial of the five killed miners took place on Monday in Zenica, with thousands of people attending. The five were then buried in village cemeteries near the town.

Raspotocje has a reputation as Bosnia’s most dangerous coal mine, with frequent rock bursts and accidents. Raspotocje produces coal for Bosnia’s largest power utility, EPBiH, and employs 430 miners. The authorities have not addressed the safety concerns since war damage sustained during the 1990s.

The Raspotocje mine was one of seven coalmines merged in 2009 by the government to supply the EPHiH utility’s coal-fired energy plants. As part of that deal EPBiH pledged to invest more than 70,000 Euros over five years to improve working conditions. Although that money has been spent, almost none has gone to Raspotocje.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Raina sent written condolences to president Sinan Husic of the union organizing the mine, the Independent Miners Trade Union of the BIH Federation:

This is a sad and tragic reminder of the importance of ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for miners all over the world, in full accordance with national labour legislation and international core labour standards, including the International Labour Organization’s Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines. We strongly encourage the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to implement its plan to vastly upgrade the operation at the Raspotocje coal mine and improve working conditions.

An injury to one is an injury to all.