The independent trade union of miners (NGPU) of West Donbass is one of the first and largest independent union organisations in Ukraine. They were formed during the massive surge of independent trade unions during the mass strike in spring 1991. This contributed to a group of delegates and the II Congress of the miners, she traveled all the units of the production association “Pavlogradugol” and conducted propaganda work. When the strike ended in the spring of 1991, there were about ten thousand miners in the NPGU of Western Donbass. Below are demands of the NGPU which were submitted by the miners of western Donbas to Poroshenko.
Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine
Western Donbass Regional association
of Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine
From 16.05.15 № 86
51400, Dnipropetrovsk region, Pavlograd, Lenina Street, tel.: (0563)26-81-69
R/r 26002050212571 in CB “Pryvatbank” in Pavlograd
MFO 3052299 OKPO 14290711
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko
Western Donbass Regional Association of Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine and public associations of disabled miners of the region are indignant with unjust statements about Ukrainian miners. And it concerns not only newspaper articles or speeches of biased journalists, but also statements made by top officials and politicians. Unfortunately, we have to say that you also were accusing our miners, saying that Akhmetov with the help of miners checked Ukrainian government for strength of their positions, and that miners’ protests in the capital are orchestrated by billionaire Akhmetov.
We don’t understand why the President and his team treat their citizens in this way. We, miners of Western Donbass, are law obedient citizens of Ukraine, and we faithfully perform our duties. Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners, associations of disabled miners of our region were among the first who started helping Ukrainian army and injured solders. Miners of “Pavlogradvugillya” many times provided charity support to Mechnikov regional clinical hospital for wounded man. And we are deeply sad to hear “so called miners” about us. It is inclusively due to the efficient work of “Pavlogradvugillya” that Ukrainians could survive during winter 2014-2015.
In mass media and on TV we heard a lot “So called minders of Akhmetov staged mass protests in front of Presidential Administration, Verkhovna Rada, Cabinet of Minister and Energy Ministry, blowing the President under the belt….”. The proofs for those statements about “Akhmetov’s trail” in miners’ actions are beneath criticism. They claim that under Yanukovich the state provided support to coal mines owned by oligarch, and that the stop of multibillion support will result in default of Akhmetov’s holding. So, finally, this asset will be returned to state property under further reprivatization. But the support was forwarded to state mines, not to private ones. “Pavlogradvuggilya” is owned by DTEK for 10 years, and during this years it has got no state support. And even today when the company is successfully producing, it still remains in scrutiny because the state structures are not paying for consumed coal and electricity. The state structures owe DTEK around 20 billion grivnas.
Hence, miners of Western Donbass are deeply concerned that in the energy market of Ukraine there is a critical situation. Power stations do not have the required amount of coal to generate heat and electricity. For the first time during many years, Ukraine has purchased the coal and electricity abroad, moreover, it was done with the state-aggressor – Russia. Still, there are currency and wagons for that. Meanwhile, Ukrainian mines have to idle. Only in warehouses of coal mines of “Pavlogradvugillia”, there is a half of a million tons of unclaimed fuel. Wages are falling, their payment are delayed, social tension in the workplace is increasing. Moreover, the declared reform of the coal industry results in closure of most Ukrainian mines, and it will lead to deeper energy crisis and finally destroying the coal industry of Ukraine.
Our demands are not new – they appeared in November, 2014. Since January 2015, we have had negotiations with Prime Minister of Ukraine Yatsenyuk A.P., with the Head Speaker of Verkhovna Rada Groisman V.B., but those negotiations have not given significant results. Given this, the mining unions have had to initiate the Third Congress of Miners of Ukraine. By the way, both you, Petro Oleksiyovych, and the Prime Minister A. Yatsenyuk have been invited to this Congress. But even the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine V. Demchyshyn was almost “removed” from the plane for his taking part in our forum. Miners expressed scathing criticism of the minister, – and undoubtedly reasonable, – taking into account all unbalanced and incompetent actions made by him and his ministerial team. But until now, for some reason, we have not heard from you an objective assessment of failed actions of minister and Government as a whole. Instead, we and workers of private mines were attacked by the flurry of slanders, despite the fact that they are mining coal underground in very difficult and dangerous conditions for the independence of Ukraine and Ukrainians’ welfare.
We have showed solidarity with the miners of state mines, who are not able to work normally and receive a salary for their work. Secondly, we are indignant and disagree with the abolition of previously existing (till the end of 2014) social guarantees for coal industry workers, pensioners, invalids of work and families of workers who died at work, which are laid down in Articles 43 and 48 of the Mining Law of Ukraine, the Law of Ukraine “On increasing of prestige of miners’ work.” We also demand the abolition of taxation of miners’ pensions and recovery of 10% rate of income tax of wages of full time employed on the underground work miners.
We have had many years of dedication and persistence to enact the aforementioned laws of Ukraine, and now the miners, who are risking their lives and health every single day, are deprived of deserved benefits.
For us, it does not really matter who is or will become in future the owner of “Pavlogradvugillia”. It is important not to destroy the successfully working coal company – maybe the only one in Ukraine, which has really high production volumes of fuel and other production indexes, as well as stable social guarantees. After all, “Pavlogradvugillia” is the only one manufacturing association in Ukraine, where the collective agreement is carried out. Conscious state’s defaults for supplied coal will lead to company’s deadlock. In Western Donbass 25 thousand of workers of “Pavlogradvugillia”, due to an annual payroll of 2.5 billion grivnas, support the entire region with its social infrastructure and a population of 200 thousand people by their taxes and purchasing capacity. Coal industry requires constant investment. To produce coal, it is necessary to introduce new lavas. If today nothing is invested in production development – tomorrow there will be no output. Consequently, there will be no work. The mines stop – the region becomes depressive with all following effects.
So we require from you, Petro Oleksiyovych, deep analysis of the situation in coal industry of our country and sound decisions concerning leading out of crisis this sector of industry.
The Head of Dnipropetrovsk regional organization
Of Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine,
The Head of public organization of disabled miners
of Western Donbass miners’ administrations M.P. Zhytnyk
The Head of Western Donbass regional association NPGU V.I. Greck
The Head of Dnipropetrovsk regional public
organization “Myr” O.O. Bobkov
Translation by the Трудові Ініціативи (Labour Initiative)