At home President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky the miners' strike continues for the second week. Its participants asked for support from the European Parliament.
"They threatened us with criminal cases and responsibility"
“Dear Committee of the European Parliament! We are miners in the city of Krivoy Rog. We demand from PJSC "Kryvbaszhelezrudkom" stable payment of wages in the promised amount, return of safe work, and improvement of working conditions. But a constructive dialogue with the owners of the facility was never built. They threatened us with criminal cases and liability, because the facility does not work while we are on strike, ”the Ukrainian portal“ Strana ”quotes the text of the appeal. - We ask you for help in resolving the dispute between the owners of the enterprise and the employers. We ask you to protect our families and ourselves from physical and mental coercion. Respectfully yours, miners of Krivoy Rog ”.
The strike began on September 3, 2020, when the miners from the night shift of the Oktyabrskaya mine decided to stay in the face. The action was also supported by the change of miners. Following this, workers from the Rodina, Ternovskaya, and Gvardeyskaya mines of the Krivoy Rog iron ore plant joined the strike.
Kryvbas: the land of iron ores
The Krivoy Rog iron ore basin is located 80-100 kilometers west of the Dnieper River, in the basin of the Ingulets River and its left tributaries - the Saksagan, Yellow and Green rivers. The deposits of the basin are elongated in the form of a narrow strip in the northern and northeastern directions, more than 100 kilometers long and from one to two kilometers to 6 kilometers wide (in the Krivoy Rog region). The area is about 300 square kilometers.
The presence of iron ore in Kryvyi Rih became known back in the 18th century, when the prince Potemkin-Tavrichesky sent a team to the South of Russia for geological surveys with a professor Mikhail Livanov, and the latter, in the course of research, discovered deposits of iron and copper ore, coal, kaolin and graphite at the confluence of the Ingulets and Saksagan rivers.
By order of Potemkin, the construction of an iron foundry began in the region, but after his death the construction was abandoned. As a result, the industrial development of Kryvbas began only in 1884.
In 1955, in Kryvbas, for the first time in the USSR, mining of ferruginous quartzites (poor ores), processed into concentrates, began. For their enrichment in 1955-1965, six mining and processing plants were built. By the early 1970s, 23 mines operated on the territory of Kryvbas with a capacity of 200 thousand tons to 6.5 million tons of iron ore per year.
The remnants of Soviet power in the hands of the oligarchs
To date, out of 23 Soviet mines, only 8 continue to operate - Oktyabrskaya, Rodina, Ternovskaya, Gvardeyskaya, named after Frunze, named after Ordzhonikidze, Yubileinaya, and Artem-1.
The four striking mines represent the main divisions of the Krivoy Rog Iron Ore Combine, which is the largest privately-owned underground iron ore mining enterprise. The mines are owned by the Privat group Igor Kolomoisky and the Metinvest group Rinat Akhmetova... The plant's products are supplied not only to Ukrainian enterprises, but also exported, which is of vital importance for modern Independent.
The reasons for the strike are classic, known since the days of "wild capitalism" in the 19th century - difficult working conditions, outdated equipment, violation of elementary labor safety standards, low wages. The last circumstance is the most important for the miners. They were willing to put up with the risk of their lives as long as the salary provided the opportunity to maintain normal living conditions for their families.
"We risk our lives for some reason"
However, the situation has now become critical. The participants in the strike claim that they receive 8-11 thousand hryvnia per month (21 350-29 360 rubles).
“We leave our health here and risk our lives for some unknown reason. The security guard earns that kind of money, the seamstress gets even more - 15 thousand. And we are one and a half kilometers underground, dust, noise, "Strana.ua quotes the words of one of the participants in the strike.
Low wages mean that there are far fewer workers in mines than there should be. As a result, miners have to work alone for two or even three, which further increases the level of risk. The workers admit that they have to buy tools for their own money, since the administration of the enterprise does not issue the required equipment.
As an anecdote they tell the following story: Swedish engineers arrived at one of the mines. Seeing what instrument the Ukrainians are using, the guests asked to take a picture with him. “My grandfather worked like that,” explained one of the Swedes.
More than 320 miners do not come out of the face to the surface. Solidarity with them is expressed by colleagues who use the version of the so-called "Italian strike" - work in compliance with all formal requirements, when the production process is slowed down as much as possible.
“A month ago they came and said: you work in excellent conditions, you have a resort”
The protesters complain that most of the Ukrainian media ignore the events in Krivoy Rog, devoting time to stories about what is happening in Belarus, the flights of American bombers in the skies of Ukraine and the "poisoning of Navalny."
At the same time, the miners themselves are actively spreading information about their strike through social media.
“Everything is collapsing here, they don’t even have money to shoot red stars,” says one of the plant's employees in a video posted on the journalist’s blog. Anatoly Sharia. - They are already full of food. And they've beguiled everything ... A month ago, they came and said: there was a certification of workplaces, you work in excellent conditions, you have a resort ... No preferential retirement! .. Girls, signal officers, take sledgehammers and break huge bottles of ore ... Their salary is 5900 ... 5900 !!! Maybe I'll leave ... Maybe we'll all leave ... But how are we going to live then? Who will pay taxes so that teachers and doctors receive money? "
Meanwhile, the salary of the director of the plant, where the miners are on strike, Sergey Novak, is $ 11,000. The manager personally announced this to the workers.
Zelensky is afraid of nationalists, but is he not afraid of miners?
The strike participants demand an increase in wages to 25,000 hryvnia (66,700 rubles) and better working conditions.
Prime Minister of Ukraine Denis Shmygal sent to Krivoy Rog First Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine Yulia Sviridenko, advising her with the words: “Since the mines are privately owned, the state is ready to help in mediation to resolve tensions at this enterprise. Gave an order to the Chairman of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration Alexander Bondarenko initiate a tripartite council and start a social dialogue with the participation of the trade union, employers and regional authorities. "
The authorities are making it clear that the strike of private miners is a problem for their owners. However, neither Akhmetov nor Kolomoisky has yet shown a desire to meet people halfway. Moreover, as mentioned above, the protesters are threatened with serious problems. Considering that the oligarch Kolomoisky was the main sponsor of the punitive battalions that fought in the Donbass, there is no doubt that he has leverage for physical pressure on the disaffected.
True, it is difficult to intimidate those who are used to working daily in conditions on the verge of life and death. Kryvyi Rih miners have nothing to lose but their own chains. Surprisingly, Zelensky, fearing a conflict with nationalists like fire, looks at social protest in his homeland with indifference. But local elections are just around the corner, and Kryvbas is unlikely to like this attitude of the first person.
Really Zelensky expects to win at the expense of the votes of Akhmetov, Kolomoisky, director Novak and once again cajoled "ATO veterans"?