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Unpaid Ukrainian miners finally get their wages

15 November, 2019Following a few months of determined and courageous strikes, protest actions and negotiations, on 14 November, Ukrainian miners from state-owned coal mines received their unpaid wages fully from June to September and partially for October. By the end of October, the total wage arrears to the miners of state-owned coal mines amounted UAH 1,172 million (US $47 million) and dated back to June to October.

Within the last few months, IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliates in Ukraine, the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine and the Trade Union of Coal Industry Workers of Ukraine, mobilized their members many times to hold protest actions against wage arrears across Ukraine in the Donbas, Luhansk, Lviv and Volyn regions. Trade union leaders held meetings with representatives of the government and the parliament of Ukraine demanding immediate measures to resolve the problems at the state-owned coal mines. As a result, on 31 October, the parliament of Ukraine adopted the Law on Amendments to the State Budget of Ukraine for 2019 that allocated an additional UAH 1 billion (US $40 million) to compensate unpaid wages of coal miners.  

Even after the enactment of the Law, allocated funds were not transferred to the miners for two weeks, which caused increasing protests among the mining communities.

On 12 November, 45 miners of Gorskaya Mine, a part of Pervomayskugol, decided not to leave the mine at the end of their shift and launched a protest action underground demanding the payment of wages from June to October. The day after, six miners of Toshkovskaya Mine and 13 miners of Karbonit Mine, both are a part of Pervomayskugol, refused to come up to the surface with the same demand. All miners came out of the mines only on 14 November after their wages were paid. 

At the same time, miners of Lvivugol refused to go down into the mine and decided to picket around local authorities. They also announced their intention to go to Kiev to conduct demonstrations in front of the parliament, government and presidential buildings if their demands to eliminate wage arrears are not met.

On 13 November, desperate miners of Mirnogradugol and their family members protested in front of the mine administration blocking the close streets and demanding payment of months-long wage arrears.  

Expressing his gratitude to all miners and trade unionists who participated in protests and showed solidarity in the struggle for the right to payment for work, Mykhailo Volynets, the chairman of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine and Member of Parliament said:

“Especially I’m thankful to those miners who protested in dangerous underground conditions".

IndustriALL Global Union’s assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

“Our global union family conveys our heartfelt congratulations to our coal mining affiliates in Ukraine and their brave members and families. We urge the Ukrainian authorities to keep efficient social dialogue with the unions in order to stabilize the situation at the state-owned coal mines, address miners' problems and avoid wage arrears in the future.”