Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 113

The Ukrainian miners’ strike drags on withoutcatching real fire, but nevertheless providing the parliamentary left withammunition against the government. Out of Ukraine’s approximately 270 mines,only some forty are striking–a number that remains constant since thestrike began on May 4. A touch of drama was added yesterday when a column ofsome 1,000 miners entered Kyiv after marching more than 600 kilometers onfoot from Dnipropetrovsk. Some of the new arrivals joined pickets outsidethe presidential administration, government and parliament buildings.

Organized by the Independent Miners’ Union of Ukraine (NPHU), the strikecould take on alarming proportions if it were joined by the far larger Unionof Coal Industry Workers (PRUP). Thus far, PRUP only supports the picketingaction. Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko yesterday held–in vain–anotherround of talks with NPHU head Mikhaylo Volynets and PRUP chief ViktorDerzhak. The government can hardly afford paying overdue wages, let alonefinancing the loss-making coal sector from the state budget as NPHU demands.A June 4 parliamentary resolution demagogically directed the government tomeet some of the demands.

The new Coal Industry Minister, Serhyi Tulub, yesterday released all deputyministers and a number of mine directors at one stroke. Tulub is describedas the main author of the government’s concept of reforming the coalindustry with support from the World Bank. As part of that plan,Pustovoytenko signed yesterday a decision to create the holding companyVuhillya Ukrainy, with a mandate to end barter operations and to market thecoal for cash to internal and foreign consumers. (Ukrainian agencies, June10 and 11. Background in the Monitor, May 6 and 20, June 5)