Supporters of the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign held protests in support of Ukrainian trade unions at the London and Newport offices of ArcelorMittal, the global steel corporation. They were first of a number planned as the start of a global solidarity campaign with the Ukrainian trade unions.
The protests took place on the eve of another court hearing in Kyiv on 27 August in an attempt by the Arcelor to halt negotiations with the trade unions, and block possible industrial action.
At the London office Ukraine Solidarity Campaign was denied entry to deliver our leaflet to Arcellor Mitall, later a company stooge questioned protesters making wild claims of inaccuracies and intimidation by our very presence, whilst in Newport, Wales they apparently told staff to go home before the protest. Staff refused.
The protest generated a great deal of interest from staff and the general public. Published below is the leaflet issued in solidarity with the joint union campaign in Ukraine.
- Stop Union Busting in Ukraine
- END POVERTY WAGES
- €1,000 LIVING WAGE FOR Kryvyi Rih workers
ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih is the largest metallurgical plant in Ukraine. When Mittal Steel acquired the plant in 2005 many in Ukraine hoped that foreign capital would operate in a more “civilized” way, i.e. modernizing production and establishing a social dialogue with workers. By 2018, their illusions have been shattered.
Kryvyi Rih workers receive the lowest salaries in comparison with ArcelorMittal companies in other countries. The management took advantage of the political and economic crisis in Ukraine to reduce the workers’ wages.
While the average salary for the plant was € 534 in 2013, it was just €306 in 2017.
However, the amount of net profit has grown 3 times in the last 8 years –
according to official data. In reality, it’s even higher as the owner of the factory is moving out hundreds of millions of euros annually and using offshore schemes.
Over the past 13 years, management have reduced the number of full-time employees from 65,000 to 23,000. At the same time exploitation of the remaining workers has grown, and many employees have been outsourced.
The employers make profit without replanting the equipment. For example, the last open-hearth furnaces in Ukraine continue to operate on ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih. Obsolete equipment poses a direct threat to workers, as evidenced by the high injury rate at the plant.
In March 2018, a worker died as a result of the collapse of the roof of the converter shop; in June, a blooming mill worker lost his leg.
In May, the workers of the railway section temporarily suspended their work due to the improper state of the locomotives.
In March, 9 trade unions active at ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih decided to start a legal trade dispute in order to achieve safe working conditions, save jobs and raise wages to € 1,000.
ArcelorMittal have sought to break the trade unions campaign: by attempting to disrupt the labor collective conference, by distributing fake (and often xenophobic) newspapers and leaflets, by using strike-breakers, threats and pressure on trade unionists.
In early May, the employer seemed to sit at the negotiating table, whilst at the same time taking the unions to court to stop negotiations. The ongoing court case is a cynical attempt to delay a legal strike, as in Ukraine a trade union cannot strike before the end of official negotiations.
The working people are already suffering the consequences of Russia’s war on Ukraine; they are also suffering from the exploitation of oligarchs and corporations like ArcelorMittal.
Ukraine Solidarity Campaign is holding this protest as part of campaign of global solidarity with the Ukrainian trade unions demanding justice at ArcelorMittal.
We also welcome the call by Lloyd Russel-Moyle MP for solidarity with the Ukrainian trade unions in the Early Day Motion he has submitted to Parliament – Early Day Motion 1412
UKRAINIAN TRADES UNIONS AND ARCELORMITTAL
That this House is deeply concerned by the situation in Ukraine, with continued social inequality, hoarding of wealth by oligarchs, the burden of debt to the west and difficulties caused by Russian aggression; welcomes the united campaign for justice for working people by the Ukrainian trades union movement in the industrial centre of Kryvyi Rih; supports their demands that the ArcelorMittal corporation increase its employees’ wages to 1,000 Euros per month, ensure safe working conditions and end anti-union practices; notes with alarm that ArcelorMittal took legal action to stop talks with trades unions; condemns the decision of a court in Kyiv to suspend the negotiations through the Conciliation Service; and calls on ArcelorMittal to enter into meaningful negotiations with the trades unions which are in dispute.
Please write to your MP and call on them to sign the Early Day Motion