RusAl Shuts Mine Amid Labor Spat

United Company RusAl on Friday ordered the closing of all five pits at its North Ural Bauxite Mine in the Sverdlovsk region amid reports that a strike at one pit could be spreading, RIA-Novosti reported.

A RusAl spokeswoman blamed the company's shutdown on "provocative actions" and the "unwillingness of union leaders to enter constructive dialogue," but denied that it was a reaction to other workers joining the strike, after an occupation by 100 workers of the Red Riding Hood pit began Wednesday.

"No, [other pits] are not on strike and we just closed [them] to make sure that everybody who is not involved in the strike is safe," the spokeswoman said Friday on condition of anonymity.

Seven hundred workers at two pits run by North Ural Bauxite Mine declared their support for the strike Friday, Dow Jones Newswires cited the local miners' union as saying.

A source close to RusAl's local management said the suspension could last up to two months, the news agency said.

The strike began Wednesday over what the union described as poor wages and working conditions. RusAl said that as of Friday afternoon, 102 miners were still in the Red Riding Hood pit.

Valery Zolotaryov, a spokesman for the Independent Miners' Union of Russia, said the miners were demanding a 40 percent pay raise, from 17,000 to 25,500 rubles ($720 to $1,085) per month, and an end to "repressive [working] conditions," RIA-Novosti reported.