Miners in Bosnia announce Strike for May 1st

Protests of miners of seven mines announced for May 1st. 

The Independent Trade Union of Mine Workers of the Federation is announcing a protest rally in Sarajevo for May 1st. After the protest walk with banners, the miners of seven mines within the Elektroprivreda concern intend to protest in front of the Federal Government building. 

A general strike will follow in the first half of May if previous agreements on restructuring and future operation of the mine are not respected. 

Zuhdija Tokic, President of the Kreka Mine Miners’ Union: “As every month, we managed to secure the payment of the salary by announcing the strike, which was paid in the late hours on Friday. The problems remain and if we do not take the situation more seriously, we will end up in a situation where the entire energy sector will be in trouble “, says Tokic. 

“On May 1, in a protest march, we will warn the FBiH Government and Elektroprivreda that they cannot deal with miners like this,” Tokic said, adding that they could no longer remain silent. Miners are looking for new investments, specifically in the Kreka mine, there is no investment of 158 million BAM: In Kreka, miners have nothing to work with. Without the help of Public Enterprise Elektroprivreda BiH, we cannot pay the salary. The miners want and can work “, says Tokic. 

Miners are aware that reorganization is needed, but also that it is necessary to take care of the systematization of jobs.

Some days ago, the Federal Minister of Energy, Mining and Industry Nermin Dzindic visited the “Banovici” Brown Coal Mine, where he talked with the Management and Supervisory Board about the fire that occurred a month ago in underground exploitation. 

“The Ministry has already informed the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Government about all events based on daily communication with the Management and Supervisory Board of this mine. 

“Everything that was done according to the laws was done quite ‘domestically’ and professionally,” Dzindic pointed out. He emphasized that the federal mining inspector, the police, the prosecutor’s office and all security agencies had been informed about everything, and he expressed hope that the cause of the fire would be found and detected very soon.

Dzindic said that the Board of Directors also presented a plan to restart production, but with the precondition of complete repair of the damage caused by the fire. 

He optimistically expects that in the next ten days he will use special methods to “approach” the place where the fire started. 

“By approaching about a kilometer of transport road to the place where the fire broke out, it will be possible to assess the way in which we will put underground production into production,” the minister pointed out.

”We have agreed with the Management Board of Elektroprivreda to discuss very soon the possible placement of 130,000 tons in order to help financially in the coming period. We must not allow the most important mine in FBiH to collapse, “he said.

Kreka Coal Mine in Tuzla is in an extremely difficult position. The miners state that the situation has never been worse, and they are forced to threaten the management with a strike now and then. Promised investments have not been realized, production is declining, and young workers are resigning.

The Kreka Mine is one of the largest collectives in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) with the largest coal production in our country. However, there are many problems in two surface mines and a lignite mine that now are unable to meet the production plan.

Kreka is located in the concern of Elektroprivreda BiH, and the announced restructuring of the mine and the systematization of jobs are assessed by the miners as inhumane and unfair. Among other things, because of that, together with other chambers from the FBiH, they will hold a protest march on May 1st this year in Sarajevo. Along with the frequent strikes, they consider this one of the ways to solve the accumulated issues.

“The situation in Rudnik Kreka has never been worse. The lack of realization of the investment phase worth 158 million BAM has led to the fact that miners cannot achieve a production result that would be adequate to respect the branch collective agreement. We are currently achieving approximately 80 percent of the total plan. These days, the daily production is between four and a half and five thousand tons of coal, while it should be a thousand tons higher,” said Zuhdija Tokic, president of the Kreka Coal Mine Trade Union.

Strikes as a way of fight for wages

In the Mramor lignite mine, coal is mined by hand using the 100-year-old method, and two surface mines, Djurdjevik and Sikulje, are also desperate for new equipment. Tokic notes that the worst situation is in Dubrave, where rubber conveyors are in a catastrophic condition.

“We would not be able to function without the help of Elektroprivreda BiH, and every month the miners announce a strike to ensure compliance with the branch collective agreement. Last Friday afternoon there was a drama in the mine, the salary was paid at the last minute and it stopped the announced strike for Monday. We are aware that in this situation where there is no clear and precise investment in equipment that will offer more humane working conditions, there is no more room for improvisation, ” the interlocutor continued.

Currently, the miners are worried because of the announcement of the restructuring of the mine, which also envisages the systematization of jobs. In Kreka, 2.100 employees are now employed for an indefinite period, while 49 people are employed in production with contracts for a definite period. According to Tokic, the planned systematization directly endangers 500 jobs. He also points out that the miners will not allow “cutting over the knees”.

“We must be told precisely how the restructuring is intended. We are aware that it is no longer possible with the current way of working, but we will not allow inhumane dismissal of workers, sending people to the bureau without a fixed length of service. It is necessary to perform qualification, additional service accrual, incentive severance pay, etc. for those people who can not be allocated to the existing systematization. What is currently offered to us is unacceptable, miners are waiting with fear and anxiety that someone from the FBiH Government or Elektroprivreda BiH will shape their fate overnight and we as a union we do not want to participate in that, ” warns Tokic.

There will be no one to go down into the pit

The union also states that in three years, Kreka will be left without 500 workers who will meet the conditions for retirement, and without adequate work organization, there will be a problem since there will be no one to go down into the pits.

“Even now, we have come to a situation where almost every month a dozen young people, who can work, resign and leave the mine. When you come to the mines nowadays, you only hear from them that they cannot wait for retirement, incentive severance pay, and similar things. Due to the stories about possible bankruptcy that are evident these days and were placed by Elektroprivreda BiH, the fear is even greater “, Tokic adds, writes.

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