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  Wednesday, April 1, 2020
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Prosecutors have started a probe into a tungsten production plant
Prosecutors have started a probe into a tungsten production plant in Russia's Far East after workers who have not been paid for three months started a hunger strike in protest.

The 17 workers involved in the hunger strike are protesting against the wage arrears, which have hit over 2.7 million rubles (about $120,000) at the plant owned by Russkiy Volfram in the village of Svetlogorye. Wages at the plant range from 6,000 to 10,000 rubles (about $300-$430) per month.

Medics are closely monitoring the health of the protesters, who started their hunger strike Monday.

The plant employs 300 workers, which is about half of the town's population. With workers receiving their last pay packet in February, people have been struggling to buy basic foods and medicines.

A regional Federation of Trade Unions official, Margarita Usova, said "the situation is critical, people have been surviving on last year's crops from their vegetable gardens," and local stores can no longer give food on credit as they have insufficient funds to replenish supplies.

Usova said the federation is raising money to help the workers.

The plant producing tungsten concentrate, opened in 1985 after a vast tungsten deposit was discovered in the area, has experienced financial difficulties since the breakup of the Soviet Union, including over fluctuating world prices for the metal used mainly in electrical appliances.

Russkiy Volfram, the plant's owner since 2003, had its assets briefly frozen last March.


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