June 26th, 2009

...now browsing by day


Trouble is a Brewing …

Friday, June 26th, 2009

*Here are some of the many towns across the country facing a Pikalyovo-like situation, as anger builds over redundancies, unpaid wages and forced leave: *

*Zlatousk, Primorye region, **(pop: 1,600)*

The Russky Volfram (Russian Tungsten) plant in Zlatousk, 700 kilometres from Vladivostok, employed 222 people out of the town’s population of 1,660. Production stopped, and workers were not paid their salaries. In April, after a number of protests, hunger strikes and a threat to block a highway, Putin met with the region’s governor, Sergei Darkin. The regional government agreed to take over the plant for the next five years.

*Baikalsk, Irkutsk region, (Pop: 15,000)*

The Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, a plant owned by Oleg Deripaska, owed its 2,500 workers about 100 million roubles in wages, as of this month. About 1,300 workers had already been laid off. In May, 60 people went on a hunger strike demanding their wages. Three workers committed suicide. On June 7, the general director of Continental, which manages the plant, met with the workers for about 20 minutes and promised to pay out the salaries. Most of them were paid back over the following two days. But local union leader Valentina Nesvetova says that workers have not been paid their May salaries, and wage arrears may start piling up again.

*Zlatoust, Chelyabinsk region (Pop: 200,000)*

The Zlatoust Metals Plant laid off 2,000 of its 9,000 workers in March. The rest were sent on forced leave, getting two-thirds of their salaries. In April, two plant workers, Alexander Negrebetsky and Andrei Shulgin went on a hunger strike, protesting against plans to shut down the plant and against wage arrears. After Chelyabinsk Governor Pyotr Zumin intervened, there were plans to resume production by the end of June. 200,000

*Rubtsovsk, Altai region (Pop: 156,000)*

Putin was supposed to visit the Altrak Tractor Plant in Rubtsovsk last week, but local authorities started paying back some of the wage arrears. However, a union worker said there are still 19 million roubles of wage arrears for February and March. All 2,800 workers are on forced leave, getting two-thirds salaries, but layoffs are in the pipeline. Production is set to resume July 1. But local union leader Lyubov Maslova says: “I’ll believe it only when I see the first tractor produced.”

*Gavrilov-Yam, Yaroslav region (pop: 18,000) *

Another plant owned by Deripaska, the Gavrilov-Yam Linen Textile Plant (founded in 1872) was 0forced to lay off about 660 of its 1,300 workers this year. The plant has promised to pay off 18 million roubles in wage arrears by July 3. The town relies heavily on its textile plants.

*Baranchinsky, Sverdlovsk region (Pop: 11,200)*

The Electro-Mechanical Factory is on the verge of bankruptcy, and owes its 1,000 employees 20.8 million roubles. Other debts include over 90 million roubles for gas, electricity and back taxes. On June 22, workers and union leaders elected nine people who have formed a Worker’s Council that will oversee money flows at the enterprise. Government officials, including the Sverdlovsk region premier Viktor Koksharov, met with workers on June 19, to back the council.

*Petrovsky, Ivanovo region (Pop: 2,700)*

The Petrovsky Alcohol Factory stopped production in April 2007, but 200 workers out of 1,200 are still employed there. Has 40 million roubles in wage arrears. Workers plan to stage a protest march to Moscow on June 30. Ivanovo Governor Alexander Men has promised to get the back wages paid and restart the plant.

*Bogdanovichsky, Sverdlovsk region, (Pop: 32,000)* The Bogdanovichsky Porcelain Factory is nearly bankrupt due to debt. It owes about 22 million roubles for gas, which has been cut off by the gas supplier. Without gas, the plant’s 700 workers were on the verge of losing their jobs. On June 23, 150 workers blocked a major highway. The workers were rounded up on a bus and taken back to the plant, where plant owners and representatives of UralSeverGaz promised to resume gas. According to a factory source, however, gas supplies were only partially resumed, and the factory is still not producing anything.