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Union wins wage increase for workers in Armenia

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29 April, 2021Strikes at two mining companies in Armenia have resulted in wage increase and improved health and safety.

On 8 and 9 April, miners at Kapan mining and processing plant that employs 1,200 workers, went on strike demanding better health and safety and wage increases. After the Branch Union of Trade Union Organizations of Miners, Metallurgists and Jewellers of Republic of Armenia (TUMMJRA) successfully negotiated with the employer, the company has provided improved personal protective equipment and is installing better air cleaning systems at the plant.

“The pandemic and the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war has left Armenia’s mining and metallurgical industry in an unstable position. Health and safety in the workplace was downgraded and workers were discontent with a decline in earnings. In response, there was spontaneous strike action,”

said TUMMJRA chair Eduard Pakhlevanyan.

After workers demanded individual incentive wages, the wage payment system has been amended to lead to wage increases of up to 15 percent, from monthly wage of AMD380.000-410.000 (US$735-795).

Another strike was launched on 16 April, when heavy dump truck drivers at Sotk gold mine blocked the road to the mine.

Sotk gold mine is owned by the GeoProMining, a mining company which extracts and processes gold, silver, antimony and copper in Russia and Armenia. After the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, 75 per cent of Sotk gold mine was transferred to Azerbaijan. The company, that used to employ 1,000 workers, was forced to lay off 280 workers. Many workers agreed to transfer to other Armenian branches of the company.

After negotiations with TUMMJRA, on 19 April the company accepted the majority of workers’ demands, including wage increases and medical insurance.

“We congratulate our affiliate on this union win, resulting in wage increases during a difficult period for the industry in Armenia,”

said IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan.