KIEV, March 23. /TASS/. Ukraine’s Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Vladimir Demchishin said on Monday the ministry cannot say when wage arrears to coal miners could be repaid.
"The situation with repayment of wage arrears to coal miners is very difficult. Money is paid in small amounts. It is difficult to say when wage arrears will be repaid in full, since coal miners’ wages cost the budget big sums - more than 400 million hryvnias ($17 million) a month. These are big sums," the minister said.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk issued an instruction to repay wage arrears back on January 28. He also ordered to set up a commission with coal miners’ trade unions to work out a reform plan for the coal sector.
The prime minister’s instructions however have not been fulfilled up till now. On Monday, more than 100 coal miners organized a protest action in Ukraine’s western city of Lviv demanding wage arrears for January and February be repaid. The protesters held posters reading "Don’t Kill the Coal Sector," "We Want State Support to the Coal Industry," "Yatsenyuk, Adhere to the Coalition Agreement."
"Wages for January and February have not yet been repaid. The debt is about 180-190 million hryvnias ($7.5-8 million)," Oleg Akimov, the first deputy director general of Lvovugol coal mining enterprise, told journalists.
Earlier, coal miners’ organizations held a number of protest actions in front of the buildings of the Ukrainian president’s administration, the cabinet of ministers and the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) in Kiev. Coal miners demanded repayment of wage arrears and amendments to the law on Ukraine state budget for 2015 to ensure increased spending on the coal sector, on-the-job safety and wages.