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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Omsk Controllers Strike Alone

Air traffic controllers in the Siberian city of Omsk began a hunger strike Sunday to demand higher wages, but their colleagues in the Far East remained on the job, according to news reports.

Union leaders had called on some 2,000 controllers in Siberia, the Far East and the Caucasus to stage a massive protest action Sunday in an effort to win a 30 percent pay increase.

Controllers in Western Russia, whose salaries are already higher than their colleagues in Russia's less populated regions, had no plans to participate.

Sergei Kovalyov, president of the Air Traffic Controllers Union, said 30 dispatchers in Omsk began the strike overnight and their numbers were expected to double, Interfax reported.

Kovalyov told Interfax that dispatchers from the Siberian cities of Nizhnevartovsk, Surgut and Novosibirsk and the northern cities of Syktyvkar and Arkhangelsk were holding union meetings to decide what action to take.

But hoped for support from colleagues in the Far East and the Kamchatka Peninsula had not yet come through, Itar-Tass reported, saying that dispatchers there were so far on the job as normal.

Oleg Budko, head of the controllers union in Khabarovsk, on the Pacific coast, was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying that a final decision about the protest had still not been made.

In a bid to stave off the strike, the Transportation Ministry on Saturday proposed a 15 percent wage increase for the top category of controllers and lower raises for the remaining types of air traffic workers, saying it was the maximum possible given current budgetary constraints, Interfax reported. The union rejected the offer as insufficient.

Last month, at least 100 air traffic controllers in several Siberian cities walked off the job and launched a hunger strike.

Their protest closed large swaths of Western Siberian airspace, but was suspended after aviation officials agreed to talks.

It was not immediately clear what affect Sunday's action would have.