On the Picket Line

Uranium, iron ore miners in Ukraine strike over jobs, back pay

By Roy Landersen
January 18, 2021

Some 5,000 uranium miners at three mines in the Eastern Mining and Processing Plant in the Kirovograd region of Ukraine went on strike Dec. 16, organizing protests that blocked traffic on the main roads around the mines. The workers, members of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, demanded months of back pay amounting to $3 million.

They also organized a delegation of miners Dec. 9 to protest outside the Cabinet of Ministers and Office of the President of Ukraine in Kyiv, the capital.

The miners suspended their actions Dec. 24, after funds for paying their November wages were transferred to the enterprise’s account by the government, with a promise December wages would be paid by the end of the month. The company, idled since Dec. 7, was to restart production Jan. 4. If work doesn’t resume then “miners will continue their protests,” said Dmytro Bondariev, head of the independent miners union at the plant.

In September over 400 miners at four mines in the Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant stayed underground, some for up to 43 days. They were fighting to restore minimum hourly pay rates, safety conditions and benefits, all driven down by the mine owners’ attacks in recent years. The complex is the largest iron ore processing facility in Ukraine.

The union ended its occupation after an agreement appeared to have been reached with mine management. But the bosses reneged, instead filing a lawsuit calling the miners’ protests an “illegal” strike, seeking to victimize them.

The next hearing in the boss frame-up suit is scheduled for Jan. 29.