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Russian union fights for mining jobs

3 March, 2016On 28 February, around 2,000 workers at the Kachkanar Mining and Ore-Processing Plant in Russia held a rally to save their jobs and pay rate.

With 6,500 workers, the Kachkanar Mining and Ore-Processing Plant (EVRAZ KGOK) is the major employer in Kachkanar, Russia. The town, which has a population of 40,000 people, was founded in 1957 to handle mining operations.

The management of the plant intends to reduce the headcount by 500 workers, and the salary by 15 percent. The majority of local families are dependent on employment at the plant, and they are concerned about the coming changes.

The rally was organized by the local union of the Miners' and Metallurgical Workers' Union of Russia (MMWU), an affiliate of IndustriALL. 

According to Anatoly Pyankov, the local MMWU leader, the plant's production output and profit are rising. In 2015, the plant produced a record output: 59.3 million tonnes of products. However, management claims that they need to cut expenses due to the crisis in the industry, primarily the cost of staff. 

The local union leader said that the plant management has failed to abide by the collective agreement, as they did not consult the union on the plans to reduce the headcount and payroll. 

Pyankov said that 150 workers had already quit their jobs after compensation was offered by management. Some workers have been forced to take unpaid leave, which they do because they are scared to lose their job and not to find anything else in the small town.

The production plan remains high, but the workers are not paid extra to do the work of dismissed workers and those who had to take unpaid leave. 

If the management fails to withdraw from the plan to reduce the headcount and the salary, the union is ready to launch a work-to-rule campaign, also known as "Italian strike".

EVRAZ KGOK is an iron ore and vanadium producer. The plant belongs to EVRAZ, a steel and mining company with operations in the Russian Federation, Ukraine, USA, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan and South Africa, that employs approximately 100,000 people.