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Kyrgyzstan: victory for striking gold miners

27 January, 2016A three-day strike by workers at the Zhamgyr gold mine in Kyrgyzstan has resulted in victory after their demands have been met.

Around 200 gold miners went on strike on 21 January after their letter with demands to the management at the mine’s operating company, Vertex Gold, remained without response for five days.

The miners demands included review of unreasonable production plans, increase of their salary by 20 percent, and extra pay for overtime work, night shifts and work during holidays, as these extra payments had never been paid to miners in violation of Kyrgyzstan law.

The average miners' salary at the Zhamgyr gold mine, situated at an altitude of 3,300 meters, is approximately 19,000 Kyrgyzstan Som (US$250), and there has been no salary increase or indexation since 2013.

On 23 January, the miners and IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Mining and Metallurgy Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan (MMTUK) succeeded in negotiating a 15 per cent salary increase with the management. Another 5 per cent increase will be considered after consultations with the investor. The gold mine operation resumed the same day.

The management also agreed to make an extra pay in case of miners’ over-performance and promised to solve all pending issues, including providing proper personal protective equipment, as well as better working conditions, within one month. 

The other trade union at the mine is under management control and has failed to protect workers’ rights, which led 85 miners from one mining shift to apply to join the MMTUK on 19 January. Miners from another shift are expected to do the same.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said: 

“IndustriALL congratulates Zhamgyr miners on their victory. We also welcome the free decision of miners to join IndustriALL affiliate the Mining and Metallurgy Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan. This decision is good both for the workers and the company, since an active and good trade union promotes workers’ welfare, a solid industrial relationship and company success.”