Donetsk miners strike against war - eyewitness account

Further to our report on the strike of Donetsk coal miners against Kiev's "anti terrorist operation" we publish here an eyewitness account by Stanislav Retinskyi which was published in the Ukrainian left wing site Liva. The author talks to the miners and explains how they took the initiative themselves and what pushed them to strike.

Had a bomb hit the electrical substation, the miners would have been trapped underground, which to them would inevitably mean death.

Today I was able to visit the “Oktyabrskiy mine” pit, which is part of the state enterprise “Donetsk coal energy company” (DCEC) and is located near the airport which was recently bombed by helicopters and jets of the Kiev regime. The information that it was the miners of this enterprise who were the first ones to strike against the “anti-terrorist operation” in Donetsk, was confirmed. Importantly, this strike began by the miners’ own efforts, their own initiative “from below” – and not under pressure of “armed masked men of the Donetsk People’s Republic”, contrary to what Mikhail Volynets, chairman of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine and ex-MP of the ruling “Batkivshchyna” party, claimed from Kiev.

In essence, this strike was against the war which threatens the very existence of the enterprise and poses the danger of unemployment to the miners. Events unfolded as follows. On Monday 26 May, when the Ukrainian army began bombings of the towns, the miners simply did not turn up to work, because the “external factor” of hostilities taking place almost at their doorstep seriously increased the risk of industrial accidents at their enterprise. For example, had a bomb hit the electrical substation, the miners would have been trapped underground, which to them would inevitably mean death – something that is difficult to grasp for outside observers from Kiev, who have only ever been underground while on the Metro.

By some reports, initially around 150 miners walked out on strike. This was the start of the strike action which spread like a chain reaction onto other pits of the Donetsk region – however, this was ignored by most of the Kiev mass media. It was not only the Donetsk pits (Skochinskiy, Abakumov, “Trudovskaya”, etc.) that went on strike, but also the collieries of other cities, particularly Ugledar (“Yuzhnodonbasskaya no. 3”). All the aforementioned pits are part of the “DCEC”. Enterprises owned by the Donetsk oligarch Rinat Akhmetov did not take part in the strikes. People were made to go down the pits despite the hostilities taking place nearby and the related risks. Oligarchs only imitate strikes for their own political aims, and the Donetsk People’s Republic militiamen are not pressuring the workers of Akhmetov pits. Miners from privately owned pits are not yet risking striking in whole crews, like those from state-owned mines are doing. However, on their own initiative, they keep guard at checkpoints and took part in anti-war picket of the Republic’s supporters.

As a result of a spontaneous initiative of the “Oktyabrskiy mine” miners, an anti-war demonstration took place on 28 May, initiated by miners themselves and not the pit administration nor the Donetsk People’s Republic leadership. We note that this turn of events was acceptable to people of varying views, for the miners’ strikes which preceded the demonstration not only saved the workers' lives, but also created the necessary conditions of economic pressure on Kiev, because a referendum cannot sever economic ties automatically, and profits from the mines still go to the state budget.

At the present moment, “Oktyabrskiy mine” is only has a minimum of miners working to pump water from the pit to prevent flooding of the city. Other miners continue striking against the war.

Source: Шахтеры бастуют против войны (translated for In Defence of Marxism by Timur Dautov)

See also: Donbas miners mobilise against oligarchs' offensive

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