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Thousands of Ukrainian miners on strike over unpaid wages

Thousands of Ukrainian miners have gone on strike, demanding their unpaid wages in the east of the country.  

(Muslim Times) -Workers blocked access to the main mine in the small town of Novogrodivka on Monday, saying they would remain in the picket line until all of their wage arrears since December last year were paid.

“We are here to draw the attention of politicians to our situation … We have not been paid since December,” said Leonid Shebanov, a 30 year-old miner with a monthly salary of 6,000 hryvnias (178 euros).

The miners stood guard and blocked the bus carrying workers to the Novogrodivka mine. Only a number of workers were allowed through to maintain the mines in good order while the strike was underway.

The walkout affected four mines, all close to the territories held by pro-Russia forces, where most of Ukraine’s active mines are located.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy and Coal Mining said Friday that wage arrears of miners for 2017, a sum of 365 million hryvnias (10.8 million euros), had been paid. However, the president of the Independent Mineworkers Union, Mykhailo Volynets, has said that the unpaid wages of all Ukrainian miners amount to 869 million hryvnias (25.8 million euros) in mid-February.

The violence in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia forces battle the government for gaining independence for two key industrial provinces, has severely affected the government finances. However, many blame the crisis in mining industry on corruption, saying the money generated by the stat-owned mines is funneled elsewhere.

“We were given part of our money, but it’s just throwing dust in our eyes,” said Sergey Durov, a 35-year-old miner, adding, “Nobody knows who we sell our coal to, everything is surrounded by mystery.”

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