Ucrania - Union leaders interrogated

Several union leaders and activists from the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) and the Coal Mining Workers’ Union of Ukraine were interrogated by the State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in June, in relation to demonstrations by thousands of miners who converged on the capital, Kiev, at the end of April 2015 to protest against unpaid wages and mine closures.

The reason for the interrogations was apparently that the authorities believed the protests were funded by third parties seeking to take over state power, hence a criminal investigation was launched.

Among those interrogated was Mikhailo Volynets, head of the NPGU, who was questioned for several hours on 18 June about his union activity. He strongly denied the accusations.
As the miners explained in an open letter to the government, the protests were motivated by their frustration at the mismanagement of the mining industry, which had led to numerous problems including salary arrears and mine closures. Instead of entering into social dialogue and addressing the serious problems in the industry, the authorities sought to persecute and discredit the unions. The April protests followed the Third Congress of Miners that was held by both unions in Kiev on 21 April 2015. The interrogations coincided with another round of mass union protests in Kiev in May and June.

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