Disputes between Kyiv City Hall and the Cabinet of Ministers could deprive Kyiv residents of public transport

Disputes between Kyiv City Hall and the Cabinet of Ministers could deprive Kyiv residents of public transport
Following the trams in the capital may stop and other public transport
Photo: UNIAN

Exorbitant wage arrears owed to employees of municipal transport resulted in the shutdown of the operation of three tram depots in Kyiv. The employees went on strike demanding their hard-earned pay. Employees of Kyivpastrans will continue striking on Friday and are hoping that drivers of buses and trolleys will join them. The city government so far has not proposed any solution to the problem in the short-term or long-term future.

Yesterday, employees of Kyivpastrans announced an ongoing strike. The press service of the company said employees of all three tram depots in the Podil and Darnytsia districts of Kyiv and the high-speed tram did not show up for work. Attempts were made to compensate for the shortage of transport by sending out standard buses and route buses on these routes.

“The main demand of the strikers is payment of wage arrears of several months. They are insistent and do not plan to back down until their demands are met. They claim that they are being pressured and in some depots employees were threatened,” the Labor Solidarity workers’ union, which supports the act of protest, informed.

Noteworthy, on Wednesday night around 100 employees of the company held a protest of warning in front of the Cabinet of Ministers and blocked traffic on Hrushevskiy Street demanding that the wage arrears of two months be paid. Leader of the Labor Solidarity movement Vitaliy Makhinko told Capital that Kyivpastrans owes the company’s employees UAH 80 mn.

“As for me, the reason for this strike is that Kyivpastrans is a huge corruption trough for government and city officials through which large sums of money are filtered and based on the residual principle there are simply not enough funds to pay wages,” Makhinko said. He added that there were plans that two auto depots would join the acts of protest on Thursday, though after talks with their management public transport vehicles went out on the usual routes. However, the management of the depots did not rule out the possibility that it will join the strikers on Friday.

Makhinko noted that the strikers rejected proposals to attend the meeting of Head of the Kyiv City State Administration Vitaliy Klitschko with Premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk. “The strike will continue until all wage arrears are paid. Other employees are ready to join us,” said the activist of the worker’s union.

Switching indicators

Klitschko blames the Cabinet of Ministers for the current situation. “The government compensated only 30% of the sum for privileged transport. On the whole, the current debt is UAH 130 mn,” the press service of the KSCA quoted him as saying. The management of Kyivpastrans echoes the words of the head of the UDAR party. Yesterday, at a press conference General Director of Kyivpastrans Serhiy Maizel said the main reason for the deficit of the company is the high percentage of privileged passengers (more than 60%). For this reason, Kyivpastrans sees only two solutions to the problem – hiking the tariffs for transport and reducing the number of privileged passengers. In particular, there is a proposal to deprive employees of bodies of internal affairs, doctors, judges and others of this status.

Expert on transport issues Oleksandr Kava agrees that in the current situation the mechanism of compensation must be changed. “This is an issue that should be addressed to the parliament as the overwhelming number of privileges is set by the laws of Ukraine. However, the city authorities could take a more active position and not make average citizens hostage to strikes,” Kava told Capital.

Former head of the KSCA Volodymyr Bondarenko believes that the city authorities had time to resolve the problem of wage arrears of employees of Kyivpastrans as they stopped receiving their pay this past autumn. He is also certain that there were possibilities to compensate the expenses of transport workers from the reserves or potential sources of revenues of the city. “A system of financial proceeds from kiosks could have been adopted. That would have brought 40 million hryvnia to the city budget. However, nobody is ready to engage in this. After all, it is much easier to put the burden of all the problems on the Cabinet of Ministers,” Bondarenko told Capital.

Former Mayor of Kyiv Leonid Kosakovskiy, who was forced to resolve the problems of strikers of the public transit system in the first half of the 1990s, also believes that the responsibility for the current situation in Kyivpastrans is on the shoulders of the city authorities. “The fact that Klitschko is putting the responsibility on the shoulders of the Cabinet is not the position of the city’s mayor. In that case, he should tender his resignation and leave office,” believes Kosakovskiy. He is convinced that the KSCA should develop a strategy of development of the transport sector. Otherwise, Kyiv will face more serious difficulties in the foreseeable future.

Yesterday, the management of Kyivpastrans announced that it is starting to pay off its debts to employees and will fully close them by December 29. Makhinko says that employees were promised to be paid wage arrears for October, but the strikers are not accepting this offer. For this reason, employees of tram depots are ready to continue their acts of protest and expect that drivers of buses and trolleybuses will join them on Friday.

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