Location Ukraine Ukraine

Ukrainian miners work for nothing on pain of state security

Since the summer of 2018 in Ukraine, the situation with the financing of state coal mines has worsened. Trade unions of miners claimed that the government owed workers more than a billion hryvnias (33 millions euro). The miners staged mass protests in Kiev.

After that, in August, the parliament allocated 1.7 billion state subsidies to the coal mining industry. However, these amounts did not save the situation. In the autumn, coal riots swept through Lviv, Volyn, Donbas and Krivbas: roads were blocked, and the miners refused to leave coal faces. Later, the government added another half a billion.

What is the cause of debt? All 33 state mines are officially unprofitable. They can get a maximum of UAH 500 million from the sale of coal per month. Although the salaries of miners are low the mines have total costs of maintaining the enterprises and wage twice high — about 1 billion UAH.

The unprofitability of production is explained by the fact that state mines have outdated worn-out equipment and therefore produce little coal. To make them profitable, you need to increase labor productivity at least three times. Experts believe that this requires about 7 billion hryvnia investment. In fact, the budget for the 2019 coal industry is 1.6 billion only. What is the way the authorities see? By and large, only one — to close state mines. And miners in the meantime do not even receive the money that is provided for by law.

According to the head of the Independent Trade Union of Miners, Mikhail Volynets, miners are not paid throughout the country. The miners began to starve. In the fall of 2018, the workers of the mines in Ugledar and Kurakhovo tried to protest, demanding their salary. But in return, they receive either meager advances or repression.

For example, the miners of Ugledar say that if they start a strike, they will be immediately fired. “Before the Miner’s Day (August 26), one of the workers provoked the others to descend into the mine and not to leave until they give up their wages. The delay then was 2.5 months. The director calculated the instigator and fired him. Another time, when the highway was blocked to pay money, the next day, an officer of the State security service came to the people and tried to bring them to trial for three accusations for a total period of 8 years,” — one worker reports to Ukrainian journalists. “My husband has got wages last time on December 17th — it was the balance in October, we didn’t get anything else,” —  the miner’s wife told Ukrainian journalists in January 2019.

In such conditions, thousands of working families are forced to exist both in the east and in the west of Ukraine.

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