Bosnian miners stage protest 250 metres below ground

Threaten hunger strike in fight over pay, recruitment
||Last Updated: 09/03/2013

SARAJEVO (Reuters) — Around 140 miners have barricaded themselves 250 metres below ground at a mine in northern Bosnia and threatened on Tuesday to go on hunger strike in a row over recruitment and pay.

Workers at the Djurdjevik mine, near the town of Tuzla, are angry at the hiring of an administrative official, which they say violates an agreement with the government to hold off recruitment of non-production staff until the wages of miners can go up.

"The situation is really dramatic," the mine's trade union president, Said Muhic, told state radio, saying the miners were threatening to launch a hunger strike.

The union has long complained over pay, conditions and delayed modernisation plans at the mine.

The Djurdjevik brown coal mine, operating under an umbrella of Bosnia's top utility EPBiH, employs more than 1,000 workers and churns out around 600,000 tonnes of coal per year, supplying the nearby Tuzla coal-fired power plant.

Officials at EPBiH and the Djurdjevik mine management were not immediately reachable for comment.

The government of Bosnia's autonomous Muslim-Croat federation, which is majority owner of EPBiH and the mines, was due to discuss the situation at a cabinet session on Tuesday.

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