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Ukrainian miners face searches and strong pressure

7 December, 2017IndustriALL affiliate the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NGPU) reports that union members are placed under pressure and have their labour rights violated at mines owned by Evraz Sukha Balka in the Dnepropetrovsk region of Ukraine. Private security employed by the company regularly conducts searches of workers.

In November, humiliating searches were conducted in the mines of Evraz Sukha Balka. Miners were forced to undress and remove their shoes. This was allegedly to prevent theft and was applied mainly towards members of the NPGU. Some workers were questioned by officers of the economic security service in a separate room about the activities of the head of the primary trade union organization at the enterprise, Serhiy Barabashuk, including his movements during working and non-working hours.

According to the union, there is discrimination in wages against members of the NPGU. The miners appealed to the general director of Evraz Sukha Balka to take measures to eliminate violations. It resulted in questioning and searches of workers with violations of legal norms, for instance, searches of women were performed by male security guards.

In addition, NPGU members might be unreasonably suspended from work and transferred to a different department. Serhiy Barabashuk and other union activists experience psychological discomfort because they are under constant surveillance, including video surveillance, by the security services of the enterprise and managers at all levels.

Mychailo Volynets, president of the NPGU, stated:

“Serhiy Barabashuk is one of the best young leaders of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine. He is an honest person with a strong sense of justice. He appealed to me about the pressure on him, as well as the threats. Sergei also believes that there is a threat to his life. But as brave trade union leader, he continues to struggle”.

Discrimination is caused by the active struggle of the union for justice and demands for safe working conditions, fair wages and the fulfilment of the employer’s obligations under the rehabilitation of miners. In particular, the union demands the cancellation of a provision of the collective agreement that deprives financial assistance to workers who have had disciplinary sanctions for a violation of work rules. There is the negative impact on health in any case, so workers should recover.

In May, workers of Evraz Sukha Balka achieved a salary increase of 20 per cent, with a gradual increase until the end of the year towards a 100 per cent increase. Then the company changed ownership, and the new management refuses to follow the agreement and puts pressure on employees.

Moreover, members of NPGU are resisting corrupt schemes operating in the enterprise, when some workers receive a higher salary and share it with the foremen.

Volynets said:

“The Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine is doing everything possible to protect its leaders and members. Also, we call on all trade unionists for solidarity with Serhiy and his trade union brothers and sisters”.