A protest has been underway at the Budryk mine since December 13. Budryk belongs to the State Treasury. The protest started with a hunger strike by six mine workers and was meant to force the Board of the mine to start collective bargaining with the workers.
On December 14th the Board's spokesman said in a television interview that the Board will not negotiate about pay increases with the workers unless a strike is started. With this, the Board gave a clear signal to the workers that calling a strike was the right way to start discussions.
At 6AM on December 17th the first shift at Budryk decided unanymously to start a strike.
The reason for the strike are the economic and social issues which make up the workers' collective demands.
In the state strategy for the mining sector from 2007-2015, it was decided to merge Budryk into the structure of Jastrzebska Mining Company (Jastrzębskiej Spółki Węglowej S.A - (JSW)). The workers were presented with a draft agreement with the Board of JSW which would form the basis of the merger. The workers of Budryk overwhelming rejected this proposal twice in referenda because of the proposed conditions of the agreement. Despite this, the Board of Budryk did not want to bargain, which is not in accordance with the law. This escalated the tension at the mine and led to the strike.
The owner of Budryk - the State Treasury - wants Budryk to be merged with JSW but with conditions which are not acceptable to the Budryk workers. They propose that the wages in Budryk will be the lowest of all the mines in the JSW structure, even lower than at the mines which (through no fault of the workers) are not profitable. The workers of Budryk demand equal treatment for all the workers of JSW and do not understand how they can be denied this.
Thanks to the independent media, the protest of the Budryk workers was presented to the public and it was shown that the miners just wanted to be treated equally.
Budryk made 45 million zloties profit in the first three quarters of this year. (12.5 million euros) This makes it the third best mine in Poland. However, the miners at Budryk have the lowest wages in the whole sector, despite a 100% increase in work efficiency. In Budryk each worker produces 1400 tons of coal a year, which is twice as much as the average which is 700 tons a year.) Such arguments make no impression of the management of either company which means that the strike goes on and the State Treasury is exposed to enormous losses.
We demand an increase in the average wage to the average level of wages in JSW. The workers deserve these wage increase especially due to health and safety risks of the work.
We appeal to all miners and good-willed people to support our protest. We also ask for financial help for the miners since the management is trying to force the workers to abandon the strike by putting off talks and putting an economic strain on the workers.
Budryk is the first mine that was built in an independent Poland. There is a modern workforce there of 2430 people. Budryk has been profitable for many years. In the first 9 months of 2007, the mine had 45 million zloties profit which makes it one of the best mines in the country. However we are not treated on par with others in our branch.
The Board has been avoiding talks with us for over 3 months. It has been trying to dvide the workers and divert public attention for the economic demands of the workers. Every day of the strike is costly for the workers and their families since all strike days are unpaid. This is a big problem for the families of striking miners and may even threaten to force them to end the strike before any agreement is reached. The Strike Committee unanymously decided to appeal to other miners and good-willed people for support. All financial help not only help the families of the striking workers but will allow them to continue the strike.
The Strike Committee state that all miners should receive the same average pay since they all work in equally dangerous conditions. As workers of a state-owned mine, we shouldn't be paid only by output because output often depends on some natural geological conditions.
In defense of our mine and the decent lives of our families, the workers spent Christmas Eve and Christmas at the mine where we will also spend New Year's Eve and New Years Day. In order that we all live better in the future.
We appeal for support so that we can reach an agreement which will be an agreement for all miners in Poland, Please don't allow our strike to end in defeat.
We won't give up but maybe our families and children, without money to live can. If they break us today, tomorrow they can break you.
To support the families of striking miners, please make payments to the Ornotowice branch of the Oresko-Knurowski Bank Spółdzieczy. (in Polish: Orzesko-Knurowski Bank Spółdzielczy oddział Ornontowice) The account number (konto) is 23 8454 1053 2001 1053 0041 5426 0001. Write that it is for the Fund for the Families of Budryk Miners. (in Polish : Fundusz pomocy dla rodzin strajkujących górników Budryka. )
Strike Committee of KWK Budryk
Ornontowice, December 29 2007