Picture Source: http://stansburyforum.com/making-sense-of-marikana/
The Miners’ Strike in 1989, which demanded an end to the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, was followed by another strike in 1991, which differed in a number of ways. “Whereas in 1989 the miners were wary of provoking repression, in 1991 they boldly called for Gorbachev’s resignation, the dismantling of the Congress of People’s Deputies and the Supreme Soviet, and the transfer of mines and their assets to respective republican governments.” The strike began after a failure from the Soviet government to increase wages. Even after Gorbachev announced that he would double the miners’ wages, they still remained unsatisfied and dismissed this change as inadequate and irrelevant.
According to an article in the Current Digest of the Soviet Press, “On Feb. 28, the Ukraine Council of Ministers instructed banks to use a coefficient of 1.42 in paying money into the miners’ consumption fund, which will make it possible for workers in the coal industry to earn an average of 500 rubles a month. […] Nevertheless, the republic government’s measure failed to avert a strike by miners in the western Donets Basin.”
In an interview with some members of the strike committee, the interviewees explained the differences between the 1991 strike and the 1989 strike. When asked what are the functions of the strike committee, Mikhail Krylov replied, “Previous strikes, which were purely economic in nature, showed us that economics alone can’t solve the problem and that was why we put forward political demands.” Also, in the Manifesto of the Donbass International Movement, the miners wrote out their hopes for freedom, stability, justice, and development.
The strike of 1991 was more organized and larger than the strike of 1989. According to a post in the LA Times, “this was also the first major coal miners’ strike that will last more than one day since a massive coal miners’ strike thrust the country into its first major labor crisis during the summer of 1989. Half of the Soviet Union’s coal production was temporarily shut down when 500,000 miners went on strike in western Siberia and the Donetsk Basin of southern Ukraine. They resumed work only after the government promised to fulfill their demands for better working conditions and pay.” The miners were able to learn from the strike in 1989 and came to terms with the demands that they felt needed to be met.
In late April of 1991, Gorbachev announced an agreement between himself and nine republican presidents. “Covering a broad range of issues, the agreement called for an end to political strikes, specifically the miners’ strike, and ‘the introduction of a special regime of work in the basic branches of industry.'” The April 26 all-Union strike action turned out to be far less impressive than the strike leaders had hoped. Miners eventually drifted back to work.