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Ukrainian uranium miners fight for their jobs

22 July, 2021Two Ukrainian affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union are fighting to protect decent jobs and timely wage payments for 8,000 workers of the only Ukrainian enterprise that extracts and processes uranium ore for Ukrainian nuclear power plants.

The publicly-owned Eastern Mining and Processing Plant, SkhidGZK, has been in crisis for some time and recently halted operations, putting at serious risk the jobs of 8,000 workers as well as the safety of the mines, with potentially devastating environmental consequences.

On 7 July, Atomprofspilka, the Nuclear Power and Industry Workers Union of Ukraine, picketed the ministry of energy in Kiev, demanding immediate solutions to ensure the sustainable operation, maintenance and development of the plant and to preserve the jobs of its 8,000 workers. 

The Independent Miners’ Union of Ukraine (NPGU) mobilized its members for a protest in the Kirovograd region, where uranium mine workers and their family members blocked the road from 12 to 16 July, while other miners refused to enter the uranium mines, demanding the sustainable operation of the company and the elimination of wage arrears that have reached UAH 89 million (US$ 3.26 million).

The unions’ demands are as follows:

  • Prevent the undermining of the strategic nuclear sector, which is the basis of Ukraine’s energy independence
  • End the current crisis by finding and allocating the resources necessary to prevent the halt of any of the enterprises or mines of the complex
  • Prevent ecological catastrophe due to the halt of operations
  • Maintain social dialogue with trade unions operating in the nuclear energy sector, not only in the bargaining process, but in the fulfilment of the decisions adopted
  • Maintain the international obligations of Ukraine in the sphere of nuclear safety regulation, sustainable development and environmental legislation, as ratified by Ukraine.

IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches, in a letter to the Prime Minister of Ukraine, called on the government:

“…to act immediately to ensure the development and implementation of sustainable industrial policy, including energy policy, with genuine social dialogue with unions as the only way to solve issues while reforming the energy sector, and to ensure, in particular, the sustainable operation and development of the SE SkhidGZK and timely wage payments for its workers”.