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    MOSCOW, February 4. /RIA Novosti correspondent/. Despite current restructuring, the mining and smelting industry of Russia has retained economic stability, Galina Karelova, Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs, said Wednesday, speaking at the 5th congress of the Mining and Smelting Union of Russia.

    This is all the more important, she said, if we remember that restructuring of the industry is quite a painful process. Thus the number of people employed in the mining industry reduced by 60.8 thousand in the first six months of 2003, and their number at present is 1.2 million.

    Karelova sees the reason why the industry has remained economically stable in the effective actions taken by the labor unions and in the positions of the employers and all workers in the mining and smelting industry. It is they who managed to soften the consequences of restructuring and to prevent a worsening of the social situation at the industry's facilities.

    According to the Deputy Prime Minister, in the course of restructuring the Labor Ministry, the Economic Development Ministry and the Finance Ministry appropriate funds for retraining in this industry workers that have been laid off. The sum of 100 million rubles (1 dollar roughly equals 29 rubles) is to be allocated for these purposes in 2004.

    Output of steel-making facilities has grown by 30 percent over the past three years, Ms. Karelova pointed out.

    As for payment to the workers, Karelova said that in November 2003 the average monthly wage in this industry reached 11,290 rubles, in ferrous metallurgy it is 8,819 rubles and in non-ferrous industry the figure is 13,764 rubles.

    She expressed hope that effective work to increase the rate in promoting social partnership will be carried on.

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