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Ukraine: new wave of protests against unpaid wages

10 October, 2017Mine workers at two state enterprises in the Ukraine, Volynvuhillia in the Volyn region and Myrnohradvuhillya in the Donetsk region, have started protests, demanding the payment of salaries overdue for several months. The miners are supported by IndustriALL affiliates the Coal Mining Workers’ Union of Ukraine and the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU).

On 9 October, 70 miners from Volynvuhillia held a protest action at the Yahodyn international check-point near the Polish-Ukrainian border. The protesters blocked the road from 11:30 am, disrupting traffic. Later workers agreed to allow cars to pass one by one, however, truck traffic was blocked until the evening.

Earlier, 1,600 miners from Buzhanska and Novovolinskaya no.9 refused to go down the mine for almost a week, demanding to be paid wage arrears. As a result, the Ministry of Energy and the Coal Industry paid salaries for July, but only to the underground workers.

On 8-9 October, more than 40 miners from the Kapitalnaya mine, belonging to the Myrnohradvugillya state enterprise, refused to return to the surface. They had been paid only 17 million UA (US $640,000) of an outstanding 49 million UA (US $ 1,8 million).
Mychailo Volynets, chair of NPGU, stated:

“One of the miners felt bad and lost consciousness. Difficult conditions and stress affects the health of people who seek justice. The miners decided to protest underground in shifts, not more than one day in a row. Union activists provide protesters with food and water”.

Valery Mamchenko, deputy chair of the Coal Mining Workers’ Union of Ukraine, said:

“The main problem is late payment of wages, the total debt is 340 million UAH ($ 12,8 million US) at the moment. We do our best to help the miners got paid”.

Previously, a major strike was held in July 2017 at the state enterprise Lysychanskvugillya in the Lugansk region of Ukraine. 91 miners from two mines stayed underground, protesting salaries in arrears since 2015.
According to Valery Mamchenko, a special working group on the settlement of crisis situations in the coal industry was created thanks to the efforts of the trade union in August 2017. It will continue its meetings. Besides, the union is conducting a social dialogue with representatives of the Verkhovna Rada, which is partially successful, and is preparing for the general action on 14 November.