Bosnian utility, striking coal miners strike deal to avoid blackouts


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Bosnian electricity company Elektroprivreda and coal miners have reached a deal to end a strike that threatened to disrupt the Balkan country’s electricity supply as winter approaches.

Thousands of coal miners had been on strike for more than a week over working conditions and wages, forcing state-owned Elektroprivreda to shut down operations at two coal-fired power plants in Tuzla, in the north of the country.

The miners were also angry at a phase-out and government restructuring plans for the coal industry.

Seventy-five percent of Bosnia’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, and a 2050 pledge to shut down the industry has paved the way for dramatic economic and cultural change.

Union leaders and Elektroprivreda said under a government-brokered deal, mining operations would resume on December 1.

The agreement responded, among other things, to union demands for the dismissal of the director of the Kreka mine in Tuzla, one of the seven mines operated by Elektroprivreda.

It also provides for salary increases and guarantees compliance with obligations towards retired minors.

Elektroprivreda said it would ask the government of the Muslim-Croatian Federation, which represents half of Bosnia with the Serb-majority Republika Srpska, to increase the price of coal by 20% from 2022.

Admir Andelija, the director of Elektroprivreda, told reporters that any increase in the price of coal would not impact the electricity prices paid by households.

Bosnia’s political institutions are also mired in years of crisis, as various factions still governed by a 26-year peace deal to end the Bosnian war maintain a predominantly ethnic power-sharing, with a senior international representative helping to guarantee certain aspects of government.

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