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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Teachers, Coal Miners Strike Over Wages

Thousands of Russian teachers went on strike Monday and miners in the Far East stopped shipping coal in continuing worker protests over unpaid wages.


The Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners announced plans to start an indefinite general strike beginning Tuesday, and demanded the resignation of the government "as incapable of solving the country's economic problems and ensuring the timely payment of wages to working people."


Labor Minister Gennady Melikian said the planned strike is "dangerous from the social, economic and political point of view."


The government owed the miners only a fraction of the total wage arrears, he said.


A hunger strike over back wages continued, meanwhile, at a nuclear power plant near St. Petersburg, and auto workers in southern Russia wrote a letter of protest to the government.


Millions of Russian state workers go months without getting paid because of a cycle of debt non-payment. Melikian said over the weekend that wage arrears have reached 46.4 trillion rubles (about $8 billion.)


On Monday, teachers at 500 schools in the Siberian region of Kemerovo began a week-long strike to protest wage delays of four to eight months, Itar-Tass said.


In the region around Vladivostok, on the Pacific Coast, about 20,000 teachers stopped work for a few hours Monday in a protest action, the news agency reported. Union officials there threatened a permanent teachers' strike later this month if salaries aren't paid.


Also in that region, coal miners stopped shipping coal Monday to area power plants to try to force them to pay their bills, Itar-Tass said.


Energy-industry officials said the miners' planned five-day action could worsen the already acute problems in providing energy to the region.


A strike of 11 coal-mining enterprises continued Monday around Tula in central Russia, Itar-Tass said.


In northwest Russia, a few employees were in the fourth day of a hunger strike at the Leningradskaya nuclear power plant to demand their pay. Plant workers planned a protest meeting later in the day.


And in another sign of Russia's industrial woes, workers at the country's biggest carmaker, Avtovaz, wrote the prime minister a letter protesting government plans to declare the debt-ridden company bankrupt, the Interfax news agency said.


Avtovaz, based in the Volga River town of Togliatti, has 11 trillion rubles in debts. Wages and benefits have been frozen.