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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

State Pays, So Miners Stay on Job

Russia's coal miners will not follow through on their threat to resume a nationwide strike March 1 because the government has been living up to the agreement that ended a two-day walkout earlier this month, union leaders said Tuesday.

Although the situation in Russia's mining regions remains tense, the government has been meeting its weekly schedule of promised wage payments, said Vitaly Budko, leader of the miner's union, at the end of a two-day session of the government commission appointed to investigate the social and economic problems of the coal regions.

The miners, having brought nationwide coal production to a virtual standstill in the first week of February, were lured back to work with the promise of a 10.4 trillion ruble ($2.2 billion) overall financial package for the industry in 1996.

"The importance of the coal industry to the national economy should not be underestimated. It's as vital as the oil [industry]," said First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov, who headed the commission.

At the same time, Kadannikov noted the need to balance the subsidies with the needs of society as a whole.

"The industry that employs sturdy men has no right to take away money from pensioners, doctors and teachers," he said.

The commission reviewed a number of projects for restructuring the industry in the Moscow region, Pechora basin, the Kuzbass and the Rostov region.