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Hundreds Of Kazakh Miners Call Off Strikes, Leave Mines

Hundreds of miners had been taking part in the strike in recent days.
Hundreds of miners had been taking part in the strike in recent days.

QARAGHANDY, Kazakhstan -- Hundreds of striking workers who have been underground for days at coal mines in central Kazakhstan have called off their strikes and left several mines overnight, according to mining company ArcelorMittal Temirtau (AMT).

AMT said 420 miners were lifted out of mines in the central region of Qaraghandy late on December 14, which was confirmed by the wives of several miners who spoke to RFE/RL.

The move came hours after AMT, a unit of global metals giant ArcelorMittal which owns the mines, filed a lawsuit against the striking workers who have been underground since December 11, demanding wage increases.

A court in the town of Shakhtinsk ruled that the strike was illegal on December 14.

The Qaraghandy regional administration announced on December 15 that the miners would not be prosecuted for their "illegal strike," adding that the miners' salaries would be increased by 30 percent and talks on other possible changes to their contracts were underway.

In total, some 700 miners took part in the strike, demanding their salaries to be doubled, sick leave to be fully paid, and the retirement age to be set at 50.

Other striking miners had called off their protests in the last few days.

ArcelorMittal Temirtau operates eight coal mines in resource-rich Kazakhstan and produced about 4 million tons of steel in 2016.

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