<P dir=rtl align=left>Russian miners on hunger strike</P>
Unions say Russia's mining industry is in a desperate state
A Siberian coal mine has promised to pay its staff half what it owes in wage arrears in a bid to end a hunger strike that has already lasted four days.
But miners at the privately-owned Yeniseyskaya coal mine have refused the offer, saying they do not believe it.
They have pledged to continue their protest until they receive what they are owed, in full.
More than 170 miners are taking part in the hunger strike to demand wage arrears that date back to October.
Two hunger-strikers have already been hospitalised and doctors have told several more they should call-off their fast.
It is the second time these miners have resorted to such drastic action.
Last month, the management caved-in after a similar strike - promising to find funds to cover what they owed.
But that money never materialised.
Now the miners say they will believe nothing until they see the cash for themselves.
The pit is privately-owned and the debts have been mounting for months.
Now the Russian parliament has intervened to try to negotiate a settlement.
The speaker of the house says it is scandalous that the situation has deteriorated so far.
The miners are hopeful a solution can be found.
But trade union leaders say the problem of wage arrears in Russia remains widespread.
Next month, they are planning a nationwide protest demanding payment to workers of billions of roubles worth of debt.