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4 Apr, 2008 07:43

Striking miners surface for pay talks

A group of striking miners in the Urals, who had vowed to stay underground until they’d been given a pay rise, have reportedly come to the surface to begin negotiations. The aluminium miners are demanding a 50 per cent increase in pay and better condition

The miners had vowed to stay underground until their demands are met.

Russia's aluminium giant, Rusal, has reportedly stopped work on all mines, which belong to the mine's owner SUBR, in order to investigate the strike. The town of Severouralsk is at a standstill, and thousands have been left without any income.

Local authorities and various mediators are taking part in the talks, but the miners say the only tangible support they've received are letters and emails from around the country.

The town's mayor, Vasily Brezhetenko, said the miners are putting the whole region at risk.
“To us, the future of our city hinges on bauxites. I don’t even feel like talking about this. I’ve lived here all my life. I’d hate to see my city and the factory I've given my whole life to vanish like this,” he said.

The world's largest aluminium producer can afford to terminate production at five of its mines but they insist they are unable to raise wages.
Viktor Radko, mine manager, said that the company needed to gain stability. “If we yield to the demands that keep coming in, we will never learn to do things in a civilizsd way, and the company will never gain stability and rhythm,” he said.

Rusal has recently taken a number of measures, which some see as a way to pressure the authorities to lobby for them. They have been criticised for cutting the financing of regional social programmes, and have taken the miners to court over the dispute.