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Russian Agro-Food Workers on Hunger Strike over Unpaid Wages/IUF Calls on Government to Act

Posted to the IUF website 21-Jan-2005

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The IUF today called on the Russian authorities to act in response to a hunger strike by agro-food workers who have not been paid for three years. Workers at the ZAO Kubanets enterprise in the Timashevsk district of Krasnodar region have not been paid since 2001. On December 19, they went on strike to back their demand that the wages be paid, and on January 18 41 workers launched an unlimited hunger strike. The majority of these hunger strikers are women, some of them mothers of large families. Their children are with them in the room where the hunger strike is being held. Many hunger strikers are already in need of medical aid.

Hunger strikers ask: "What are our children guilty of?"

The company owes a total of 2.8 million rubles (ca. USD 100,000) to the 350 workers, including compensation to those dismissed since the last time wages were paid. On average, 90,000 rubles (around USD 3,000) is owed to each employee.

ZAO Kubanets, formerly considered one of the most efficient meat and dairy complexes in Russia, has been bankrupted through asset-stripping and dubious restructurings by the local authorities.

The IUF, in a letter to Russian President Putin and the governor of Krasnodar, called for government action to ensure that the Kubanets workers are paid in full in the shortest possible time, and that those responsible for this situation are brought to justice. IUF Russia representatives have met with the strikers and are supporting their struggle.

The industrial action and hunger strike at Kubanets are the most serious and sustained collective actions to date by rural workers in Russia.