Date: Tue, 27 May 97 15:50:32 CDT
Kuzbass Medical Workers Affected by Nonpayments
By Dmitriy Sizov, NTV Television ‘Segodnya’ program, 20 May 1997, 1200 GMT
The medical community in the Kuzbass diagnosed itself as having chronic nonpayments a long time ago, but the illness has become particularly acute this year, as the high strike temperature demonstrates. The number of medical establishments taking part in various protest actions over the last three months is the same as for the whole of last year.
According to trade unions, the Kemerovo Region health care sector is now owed 250 billion rubles.
The local authorities are not in a state to give such a powerful financial injection. The time for letting the situation heal itself has passed. Medical workers in the town of Yurga began an indefinite strike today.
They have not been paid for eight months. They have been left without pay and have left patients without any aid other than emergency aid and without medical certificates. People who do not receive their pay on time, including defense workers, teachers, and militiamen, are being deprived of medical care.
Two days ago a captain of the local traffic police, Vasiliy Ivanov, got his pay by firing two warning shots from his pistol. He had locked himself in a militia garage and threatened to commit suicide, firing twice in the air to show that he was serious. The head of the regional department of internal affairs then flew in by helicopter from Kemerovo with 5 million rubles for the officer. He handed over the money and then put him under house arrest. The militiaman is now awaiting medical examination.
The social difficulties provoked by the chronic nonpayments are getting ever more dangerous.
Dmitriy Sizov reporting from the Kuzbass for NTV Television.
Social Tension Rising in Kuzbass After Railway Merger
By Yuriy Kotlyarov. ‘Hot in Kuzbass’, Moscow Trud, 20 May 1997, p. 1
Kemerovo -- Yesterday around 15,000 miners, construction workers, drivers, medical staff, teachers, and pensioners attended another rally in the central square of Anzhero- Sudzhensk.
Afterwards an appeal was adopted to all inhabitants of the Kuzbass to switch from local protest actions to a general strike. A permanently operating city strike committee was elected for the purpose.
Point one in the unanimously adopted resolution was a demand for the president's and government's resignation.
Social tension has been on the rise in the Kuzbass in recent days. It is not only a matter of constantly delayed wage payments. There is no money to keep enterprises going. Production continues to decline in practically all sectors.
Now there has been yet another blow -- the Kemerovo Railroad has been abolished.
In this connection oblast budget losses already stand at half a trillion rubles. Around 5,000 specialists are to lose their jobs. Moreover, the railroad bosses had demanded that the shippers pay at least 50 percent in real money. As a result hundreds of freightcars loaded with coal, metal, and iron ore have not yet been dispatched. Losses amount to several billion rubles.
All this has caused further angry outbursts in labor collectives.
Miners' Protests in Sakhalin, Kuzbass, Rostov Noted. ‘Miners Lie Down. Some on Rails, Others in Mines’
By Aleksandr Isayev and Fedor Yemchenko, Moscow Trud, 21 May 1997, p. 1
Following the example of their Kuzbass colleagues, around 400 miners from the Makarovskaya Mine on Sakhalin have blocked the railroad linking the north and south of the island.
The months-long holdups with wages were the reason for the protest. For over a year now, for instance, miners have been receiving meager so-called advances and checks stating the amount of money owing to them.
Not only did the miners' action not cause discontent among the island's population but, on the contrary, they were joined by residents of the city of Makarov and outlying villages. They blocked highways and stopped urban transport.
In this connection it is a good idea to recall the promises made by Sakhalin's first governor, Fedorov, to transform the island into the most prosperous region of Russia within five years.
There is also trouble in other mining areas. In the Kuzbass health workers in the city of Yurga have gone on strike indefinitely. The oblast trade union council has begun preparing for a Kuzbass-wide strike, in which the main demands will be political.
Over 1,000 miners at the Vostochnaya Mine in Rostov Oblast have admittedly not lain down on the rails but in the mines. The reason is, regrettably, the same: People are not being paid for their work.
Wage arrears total 525 billion rubles at the Rostovugol Joint-Stock Company. The debts have been carried over from last year. The situation in the industry is disastrous: Fuel consumers cannot pay the miners since they themselves are not being paid by their customer, who is often the state itself. What a vicious circle. And it is becoming an increasing burden on the Russian economy.