4 RusAl Bauxite Mines Resume Work

Itar-TassWorkers at the Little Red Riding Hood mine returning to the surface on April 4 after a 10-day underground protest.
Four of the five mines at United Company RusAl's bauxite mines in the Sverdlovsk region resumed operations Tuesday, as more than 5,000 miners agreed to return to work.

A hard core of 74 miners at one pit, the Little Red Riding Hood mine, continued a hunger strike over a 50 percent wage hike demand and an end to weekend shifts.

The company agreed to end weekend shifts and offered a 5 percent wage increase beginning May and 25 percent more by year's end, miners said Tuesday.

RusAl spokeswoman Yelena Shuliveistrova declined to confirm that the company had made the offers, however. "We are still in the process of negotiations," she said.

"The order to resume operations was issued due to the multiple requests from the majority of the miners," RusAl said in an e-mailed statement earlier Tuesday. "The four mines of the North Urals Bauxite Mining Complex came to work at midnight."

Miners at the Little Red Riding Hood mine began an underground occupation March 26. After 10 days underground, more than a week of subsequent negotiations and a three-day hunger strike, the miners admitted they hadn't gotten much out of the company.

"I feel angry and frustrated, but I will have to go back to work," said one miner, blaster Igor Taroyev. "The employer has distributed an official document saying we had to begin work. If I don't go, I'll be fired."

Taroyev said he had learned that one of his fellow-strikers, Andrei Savin, had died of a heart attack on Monday. Savin, in his 50s, had worked at the mine for more than 20 years, Taroyev said.

The head of the miners' union at the complex, Valery Zolotaryov, was briefly arrested and then released Tuesday after being accused of organizing sabotage.

n RusAl said its bauxite output grew 13 percent and aluminum output 9.4 percent in the first quarter of 2008.