The Kapan enrichment plant, operated by the Russian “Polimetal” company, has promised a 10% salary raise to all employees. The company announced that its operations have been resumed since 16:00 on May 30, after a 6-day halt in connection to the strike. The two-day hunger strike of several employees demanding a pay raise has also ended.
Employees of the plant demanded a pay raise, safe working conditions and protection of their employment rights.
In the course of several days of negotiations, the company first promised a 5% pay raise, and later offered 10%. However, the initial demand of employees was for a 20-40% raise. So far, parties have agreed on a 10% raise.
Davit Hakobyan, an environmentalist from Kapan, told Epress.am that the company has taken a crafty step and has actually raised salaries only by 5%. “The mandatory funded pensions were already supposed to start covering private companies. But, several days ago, it was announced that this provision is postponed for a year. In essence, the company is transferring the 5% pension funds to the employees. This, in addition to the 5% pay raise turns into a 10% raise.”
What do the employees think about the 10% raise? Hakobyan mentioned that they consider this a victory, since the company now knows that 900 employees can go on a strike.
The company announcement also says that a new work council will be formed on May 31 to address other issues raised by employees about work conditions and remuneration. The announcement also mentioned, that employees on strike at the Shahumyan mine since May 28 will not be brought to liability for violation of internal regulations and technical safety rules.
As for the issue of employees on strike, the company says it has decided “to not use termination as a disciplinary penalty against employees who didn’t to go to work during May 25-30”.
Norik Norikyan, a lawyer, told us in relation to the above-mentioned announcement, that going on a strike is a legal right guaranteed by the RA Constitution. “Through a strike they can voice their issues. A strike can be ruled illegal only by the court. The employer has no right to fire employees on strike as a disciplinary penalty. Moreover, the employer is obliged to pay the salaries of employees on strike”.