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Strikes in Russia : the case of the coal-mining industry

By Vadim Borisov


This thesis presents an analysis of the character and significance of strikes in post-\ud Soviet Russia on the basis of a series of case studies of strikes in the coal-mining\ud industry. The central argument of the thesis is that the patterns of strike activity\ud have been conditioned by the forms of management and financing of the coal-mining\ud industry and by the strategy of the mining industry trade unions.\ud Following a review of the sociological and industrial relations literature on strikes,\ud the thesis opens with a detailed study of the 1989 miners' strike in Kuzbass. Here it\ud is shown that the original demands of the miners were taken up and generalised by\ud the structures of branch and local administrative power, and the strike was thereby\ud assimilated into the traditional structures of branch and regional lobbying for\ud resources in Moscow. This set the pattern for the subsequent organisation of strikes\ud in the state and state-subsidised sectors of the economy.\ud The coincidence of interests of miners with the branch and regional authorities in\ud 1989 was determined by the centralised management and financing of the coal-mining\ud industry. The system of subsidies to the industry reproduced this structure\ud even after the `transition to a market economy', although the financial and political\ud weakening of the state amid intensified competition for resources made it\ud increasingly difficult for the state to meet all the demands put on it. An analysis of\ud the 1993 miners' strike in Ukrainian Donbass shows how these constraints meant\ud that the miners were used by the directors to achieve their own ends. This is\ud followed by an account of the relationship between the lobbying activity of the\ud coal-mining industry, conflicts within the government apparatus, changing forms of\ud financing of the industry and the organisation of nation-wide miners' actions,\ud centred on the 1995 and 1996 miners' strikes.\ud The changes in the system of management and financing of the coal-mining\ud industry meant that the trade unions sought to contain conflict within the enterprise\ud in the attempt to concentrate their efforts on regional and national campaigns in\ud collaboration with management. The final three substantive chapters of the thesis\ud explore the implications of the increasing isolation and fragmentation of the miners\ud through a series of case studies of strikes in Kuzbass and Rostov over the period\ud 1997-9. The final chapter draws together the general themes addressed in the thesis

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