Read the original text at radiosvoboda.org.
A miners’ upsurge, from mine to mine, shakes the industrial city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine. Workers demanding pay rise to a wage equivalent to US$ 1,000 held strikes, occupations and rallies throughout the city.
At two mines of Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Works public company, "Batkivshchyna" and "Ternivska", the workers had been staying in the mine faces demanding higher wages. They rose to the surface only after successful talks with the company, the chairman of the city organization of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine Yury Samoilov told Radio Liberty.
According to him, company CEO Fedir Karamanyts has personally communicated with the miners who stayed in the mine and held an underground meetings of labor collectives. As Yury Samoilov informed, negotiations culminated in agreement on the gradual increase in wages.
"Starting from May 2017, a pay rise by 20% is planned, with next increase by 30% in August. A gradual increase of the average salary to 25,000 hryvnias (slightly less than US$ 1,000) for the main categories of professions is afoot. From 11 May, the working group comprised of representatives of labor collectives and management of the enterprise will meet to develop the time schedule of wage increases. However, as it’s a spontaneous action, several mines have already negotiated, while others are still in process ," said Yuri Samoilov.
According to "Ternivska" miners contacted by Radio Liberty, the mine operation did not stop during the day.
"None of the mines has stopped its work, as miners feel responsible for the workflow. However, in case of disagreement with the administration, labor groups might hold repeated meetings at the workplace (- under the ground – Ed.)," said the miners.
At some other mines, the workers’ demands were met without understanding of their respective companies. Independent Trade Union of Miners leader at EVRAZ Sukha Balka corporation Serhiy Barabashuk noted that at first, mine’s general management refused to negotiate about salary increase, claiming that the company allegedly suffers losses. But then it said about 10-12% increase.
Economist Zakhar Popovych is convinced that arguments of the mine’s administration are not actually related to the real economic situation.
“The revenue of “Sukha Balka” is 4.5 billion. If we compare Ukraine’s ore price and the world prices, first is understated by about half. That is about four billion are funneled through offshore companies, firms, brokers etc. Payroll is about 30%. That is, a third of the money funneled to offshore would be enough to raise wages by half,” the economist said.
“Every additional US$ 1000 paid as wages means saving this money from going to offshore. Of course, increase of wages means increase in domestic demand, paying taxes, eventual increasing investment in the country. $ 1000 per month is still a reasonable requirement. Average wages of miners and steelmakers in Europe and even the world are much higher than a thousand dollars. Increasing salaries up to 1,000 US dollars per month is equivalent to that Kyvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant owners would funnel to offshore one-third less money,” he adds.
May 4, in Kyvyi Rih about 400 employees of Kyvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant (it includes four mines – Batkivshchyna, Hvardiyska, Ternivska, Zhovtneva) did not come to the surface after the night shift. The miners demand to increase wages to the level of 2012, when their salary amounted to about a thousand US dollars.
Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Works is Ukraine’s largest enterprise in iron ore underground mining.