Mittal Steel To Boost Some Workers' Pay

KIEV, Ukraine -- Netherlands-based Mittal Steel Co. has announced a 15 percent hike in salaries for workers at the giant Ukrainian steel mill it purchased last year, an increase that comes amid increasingly strong complaints by the Ukrainian government about low salaries.

The company said in a statement Thursday that it will increase salaries by 10 percent backdated as of January and by 5 percent from June.

The increase was agreed during negotiations with the local coal and metallurgical trade union, Mittal Steel said.

The average salary at the plant now is 1,590 hryvna ($318) a month, said spokeswoman Natalya Sedova. After the increase, the average salary will climb to 1,830 hryvna ($366) a month.

The State Property Fund, which oversaw Mittal Steel's purchase of Kryvorizhstal from the state last October, warned this month that it might sue if the company did not fulfill an alleged promise to increase salaries by June 6.

Mittal Steel countered that it has fulfilled almost all of its 60 obligations and accused the property fund of misinterpreting just one of the agreements.

Narendra Chaudary, general director of the mill, said in the statement that the company is fulfilling and will continue to fulfill all its obligations, and will aim "to solve all issues through negotiations."

Mittal Steel bought Kryvorizhstal mill for 24.2 billion hryvna ($4.8 billion) in October in Ukraine's biggest and most profitable privatization auction ever.

The sale earned Ukraine nearly six times more than the amount the mill was sold for a year earlier under former President Leonid Kuchma.

That sale to Kuchma's son-in-law and another tycoon was later declared illegal and canceled.

Source: AP