In progress since May 4 (see The Monitor, May 6), the coal strike in Ukraine was aptly described yesterday as “neither growing nor dying out.” A more or less constant number of forty-five mines participate in the strike, called by the Independent Trade Union of Mine Workers (NPGU). A column of three thousand miners, some of them accompanied by families, entered the regional center Dnipropetrovsk today after marching more than 100 kilometers on foot from Pavlohrad. The miners demand payment of overdue wages from the regional administration.
The strike leaders also demand deficit financing of the bankrupt coal sector by the state. This set of highly inflationary demands could doom the government’s effort to reform the economy. Until May 18, the government declined to negotiate. On that day, however, Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko met with NPGU leader Mikhaylo Volynets and agreed to assign First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Holubchenko to negotiate. Volynets led a turbulent strike two years ago in the Donbass–with crippling nationwide effects. This time, however, NPGU is in a weaker position because the larger Union of Coal Industry Workers (PRUP) does not support the strike, and most of the country’s 230 mines do not participate. (UNIAN, Eastern Economist Daily, Ukrainian TV, May 18 and 19)
GEORGIA MAY BE DEVELOPING A MILITARY OPTION IN ABKHAZIA.