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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vorkuta Miners Trap Bosses, Mayor in Office

Angry coal miners in northern Russia, pressing for payment of overdue wages, kept their bosses and the mayor of the Arctic city of Vorkuta barricaded in their offices for a second day Thursday.

Meanwhile, several dozen miners in and around Vorkuta were on hunger strike to draw attention to their plight. Some of them spent a second day below ground without food. The miners are seeking immediate payment of up to three months in back wages.

"Yesterday the miners barricaded the offices of directors of six big Vorkuta mines, Vorkutaugol mining company director Viktor Ekgardt, and Igor Shpektor, the mayor," Vyacheslav Davydov, a Vorkutaugol spokesman, said.

"They are still locked in and the wives are bringing their husbands sandwiches," Davydov said, adding that after years of sporadic protest, the miners seemed ready for the long haul.

Davydov said trade unions issued a statement saying the government and President Boris Yeltsin failed to keep promises to end wage arrears and the miners would demand resignations and renationalization of the coal industry.

At Inta, some 200 kilometers southeast of Vorkuta, miners stayed out on railroad tracks in sub-freezing temperatures for a second day.

More than a hundred miners at the Inta pit were on hunger strike in the building of Intaugol mining company.

Coal miners were also staging protests in other areas. Hundreds gathered near the city of Anzhero-Sudzhensk threatening to block the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Miners were also on hunger strike in the Far East.

The government says it has repaid or at least set aside enough money to redeem all wage debts to employees who are paid by the state. But many companies say they cannot pay workers because of a payments crisis in which mines are, for example, owed huge amounts for coal deliveries they have already made.

Miners insist that the state, which holds big stakes in most of the coal mining companies, is responsible for the problem and should take care of all unpaid wages.