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Ukrainian miners demand wage increase

19 June, 2014Workers of EVRAZ Sukhaya Balka JSC in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, are demanding a doubling of wages. If management fails to agree, workers are prepared to go on strike.

EVRAZ is a steel and mining company with operations in the Russian Federation, Ukraine, USA, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan and South Africa. On 13 June, workers in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, launched a protest in front of the company’s office, demanding a doubling of wages as of 1 May 2014.

A rapid rise of prices for basic goods and services, as well as a devaluation of the Ukrainian currency, are the main reasons for workers' demands. One of the protesters said he is earning 8 000 hryvnia. This amount used to equal US$ 1000, but with the current exchange rate only amounts to US$ 700.

Igor Naumenko, the company’s human resource director, said that the wages at EVRAZ Sukhaya Balka JSC are already higher than average in the industry, but that management is planning further increases. Promising to share the workers’ demands with management, he also committed to reporting back in a week what wage increases will be effective as of 1 June.

Aleksander Bondar, local chairman of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine:

The union is ready to negotiate, but we will go on strike if an agreement is not reached within a week.

A solidarity action supporting miners at EVRAZ Sukhaya Balka JSC took place on 12 June at the Chelsea Football Club stadium in London, where EVRAZ was holding its shareholders’ annual general meeting. Demonstrators picketed one of the main entrances to the stadium, distributing information on the Ukrainian miners’ demands.

In May, more than a thousand workers at the Jubilee and Frunze mines of EVRAZ Sukhaya Balka JSC protested against the reduction of wages and demanded a double wage increase. However, a month later management has yet to meet the workers' demands.