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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Coal Workers Plan Protest Strike for Tuesday

Russian coalminers are planning to go on a warning strike Tuesday to protest against government delays in paying off last year's debts, resulting in half the miners not being paid for three months, union officials said Monday.

Alexander Sergeyev of the Independent Miners' Union said only Kuzbass miners will not participate in the strike that is expected to last one to three days. He said the strike calls for stopping operations and canceling deliveries.

Miners strikes have played an important role in Russian politics. Their strike in 1989, which began as a complaint over the lack of soap, signaled the beginning of the end for Soviet power.

Vitaly Budko, chairman of the Independent Union of Coalmining Industry Employees, said he expected 80 percent of all enterprises involved to participate.

A union meeting Feb. 21 called for a two-day strike and demanded that the government pay off its debts for 1993 and first two months of 1994 and assign 11.9 trillion rubles ($6.8 billion) as budget subsidies to the industry for 1994.

According to Budko, the government owes the mines about 200 billion rubles. Besides, instead of the 11.9 trillion subsidy, the government is offering no more than 5.6 trillion, he said.

Budko said unless the union's demands are met, the industry that includes 231 mines, 61 open coal reservoirs and over 20 coal processing plants is likely to collapse.

He said if subsidy requests are not met, the price of a ton of coal, which now ranges from 10,000 to 30,000 rubles will have to be increased to 94,000 rubles.