Miners Leave RusAl Pits, Wage Talks Set to Begin

Miners at RusAl's Little Red Riding Hood mine in the Sverdlovsk region on Friday ended their 10-day occupation after senior company executives spent a night negotiating with local trade union leaders.

RusAl vice president Alexander Livshits and Anatoly Reshetnikov, a government-relations official for the company, guaranteed that the miners would not be fined or dismissed for taking part in the strike.

The document signed by the local RusAl management was later distributed among the miners.

Negotiations on a wage increase for the miners were planned to begin Monday morning. The talks were to be held by a special commission of 22 representatives from both sides of the dispute.

Work at the mine and four others in the complex owned by North Ural Bauxite Mine, a RusAl subsidiary, was planned to resume soon, RusAl said in an e-mailed statement without elaborating on the date. Company officials could not be reached for further comment Friday.

"After the top managers came, we understood that the company was treating our problem seriously," said Alexander Kalugin, the mine's technical inspector, who was one of three union representatives who talked to RusAl.

"RusAl said it was ready to negotiate if we came back to the surface. We decided to make that move," Kalugin said, yawning during a telephone conversation Friday afternoon. He apologized, saying he had not slept normally for the last week.

The workers had demanded a 50 percent pay raise and the end of weekend shifts. RusAl dismissed the protest as illegal, saying the miners had not properly submitted their demands beforehand.

"We feel that they are ready for a compromise," Kalugin said. "As for us, we can make some concessions too. We would even agree to a 30 percent increase in salaries."