Ukraine: Miners protest in Kryvyi Rih

Miners of the Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant (KZRK) are still protesting in Kryvyi Rih. According to the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU), on 9th of October, 21 workers, including two women, of the Zhovtneva mine still stayed underground.

The protesters and administration representatives had agreed on the content of the draft Memorandum, but later the employer changed its decision. In particular, another version of the Memorandum contains a provision that payments for the days of protest are not provided for all participants of the underground protest action.

This week the Chairperson of the KVPU and NPGU Mykhailo Volynets with the First Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine Yulia Svyridenko visited the Kryvyi Rih where he met with the protesters in the Zhovtneva Mine and the KZRK administration.

On the World Day for Decent Work, Mykhailo Volynets spent with miners and members of their families.

"A week ago, people were ready to go to the surface and agreed to the conditions offered to them. But the administration decided otherwise, maybe they hoped that the miners would be morally and physically exhausted soon. The protest continues because the employer doesn’t want to follow the principles of social dialogue" – said Mykhailo Volynets.

The KVPU and the NPGU Chairperson also noted that Kryvyi Rih’s independent trade unions are struggling under pressure facing obstacles. On 6th of October, together with the leaders of local independent trade unions, Mykhailo Volynets could not get into the office of the primary trade union of the NPGU at the KZRK, the guard didn’t allow it. The NPGU considered it as a direct violation of Art. 40 of the Law of Ukraine "On trade unions, their rights and guarantees of activity"; Art. 351 ("Obstruction of the activity of the People’s Deputy of Ukraine and the deputy of the local council") and Art. 170 ("Obstruction of lawful activity of trade unions, political parties, public organizations") of the Criminal Code of Ukraine by a representative of the security service of the enterprise.

Moreover, instead of signing the Memorandum and resolving the problems through negotiations, the KZRK administration filed a lawsuit against protesters and leaders of the independent trade union. A court hearing, in this case, is scheduled for 16th of October.

The legal service of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine has carefully studied the lawsuit filed by the management of the KZRK against the miners and considers it unfounded and frivolous.

In this regard, the NPGU called on the owners of the "Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant" to social dialogue and peaceful resolution of the conflict, without wasting time on the obviously losing case.

Furthermore, the KVPU appealed to the co-chairs of the National Tripartite Social and Economic Council of Ukraine from the government, employers’ and trade unions considering the protest of miners of the KZRK.

As the NPGU informed before, on 3rd of September, miners of the Zhovtneva Mine of the KZRK started the underground protest, demanding a wage increase and an end to workplace safety assessment breaches, improved working conditions, and pension preferences due to difficult working conditions. The protests spread to three other mines, Gvardiiska, Ternivska, and Batkivshchyna, including almost 400 miners.

Miners and family members have held solidarity protests in Kryyi Rih and Kyiv, and there are reports on the pressure put on the miners and members of their families. For instance, Viktor Stoyanovskyi, the head of the primary trade union organization of the NPGU at the Zhovtneva Mine, and Valery Hrynevych, the deputy head of the NPGU mine trade union committee claimed that since the beginning of the protest, unknown persons had been watching their families’ members. Viktor Stoyanovsky’s wife Valeria repeatedly noticed a suspicious car near her house and one day the unknown man approached her 13-year-old daughter near the school and asked about her parents.

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