Thousands of miners in Kazakhstan and the Ukraine staged a one-day warning strike Friday to demand higher pay, earlier retirement and the resignation of President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, a union official said.
Miners in the Donetsk region in the Ukraine and the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan were halting the shipment of coal for at least 24 hours, said Pavel Shushpanov, a member of the executive bureau of the Independent Miners' Union.Coal miners in the Ural mountain region of Vorkuta voted for a similar warning strike at midnight Friday, Shushpanov said. In the central Siberian region of Kuznetsk, miners said they would strike Monday.
The strikes are the first nationwide test of strength for the 80,000-member Independent Union of Miners, which was formed last fall.
Eighteen months ago, work stoppages by hundreds of thousands of miners spawned the new union and forced concessions from the government, including promises of pay increases and improved working conditions. Many of the concessions have not yet been fulfilled.
Slava Golikov, a strike committee member in the Kuznetsk Basin, said workers are demanding the resignation of Gorbachev and the transition of mine ownership from the central government to the Russian Federation.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin called the Donetsk miners' demands "exorbitant." He said, "It's completely clear that everything has been done to make the demands unfulfillable, and that no compromise is possible."