Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 233

Following a decision taken on December 11, the Independent Miners’ Trade Union yesterday ended the strike that the coal miners had launched on December 3. Support for the strike had been dwindling in recent days. In Rostov, however, the regional miners committee said it intended to continue the protest action. (Itar-Tass, December 12)

In general, workers’ representatives seem to be satisfied with promises by the government to pay wage arrears and provide state support to the industry. On December 10, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told Russia’ s Federation Council that the coal industry will receive a total of 10 trillion rubles this year, of which 7.6 trillion rubles have already been transferred. He also reported that 650 billion rubles will be allocated in December for the payment of wage debts in the coal industry. Chernomyrdin said that comprehensive solutions to problems in the coal mining sector are required, including additional restructuring and the transfer of social facilities run by the coal enterprises to local authorities. (Itar-Tass, December 10)

According to a representative of Rosugol, however, the total wage debt in the coal sector amounted to 2.6 trillion rubles on December 1, and the payment of state debts to the sector will not, therefore, solve the industry’s problems. (Interfax, December 12) Like Chernomyrdin, the official highlighted the non-payment by power companies for coal deliveries as the main cause of the industry’s dire financial situation.

Plans for restructuring the sector have been established within the framework of a World Bank-sponsored program, and a decision on the granting of a further $250 million credit is expected in the coming weeks. The World Bank’s representative in Moscow called on December 10 for a reduction of state support for the coal sector and changes in the structure of subsidies in favor of measures to increase social protections and to encourage competition. (Interfax, December 10)

Shares of the Sidanko Oil Company Are Up for Sale.