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Ukrainian steelworkers fight back against dismissals

13 December, 2012ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih steel plant in Ukraine announced a new wave of dismissals. 446 workers will be cut, which amounts to 1 per cent of the total workforce.

Metallurgical and Mining Industry Workers’ Union of Ukraine (MMIWU), an IndustriALL affiliate, held a protest rally in Kryvyi Rih and a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine.

The administration of ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih steel plant in Eastern Ukraine announced a new wave of cuts, citing financial obligations towards thousands of other workers at the plant. 446 workers will be dismissed out of 38,267 workers employed at the plant.

The union local affiliated to the Metallurgical and Mining Industry Workers’ Union of Ukraine (MMIWU) led a campaign of resistance.

On 4 December metalworkers held a rally in Kryvyi Rih. They protested against the dismissals, lack of investment in the plant, broken promises of the global company, and intensifying workload. Up to 3,000 workers took part in the action.

At the press conference on 12 December MMIWU claimed that since the plant was privatized and sold to ArcelorMittal in 2005, the workforce went down from 56,000 to the present number.

Members of the union also said that according to the administration the average wage at the plant is 650 USD, however, in reality workers earn a maximum of 500 USD, while some of them are paid just 200-220 USD.

Other issues at the plant include constant overtime, 90 per cent wearing of equipment, and lack of investment.

MMIWU president Vladimir Kazachenko says the union will enter a collective dispute with the company if its positon doesn’t change, and ArcelorMittal workers will go on strike if necessary.

Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union sent a letter of solidarity to both to the union local in Kryvyi Rih and MMIWU headquarters in Dnepropetrovsk.