By Tony Patey, Industrial Reporter:
The true face of austerity Europe
Wednesday 11 July 2012
Coalminers and trade union activists angry over government subsidy cuts had massed by the gates of the Ministry of Industry in Madrid and were making their voices heard.
Riot police guarding the building charged using their batons, leaving about a dozen wounded.
Witnesses said some supporters who had joined the demo at the last minute then began to throw stones and firecrackers at police – who replied with rubber bullets.
Reports said that “several” demonstrators, members of the media as well as some policemen had been injured.
One witness said: “At least one photographer had severe bleeding from the head, and a television camera operator was lying on the floor and looked unconscious.”
Police were reported to have arrested five people and at least 23 people were said to have been tended by emergency services for injuries after the charge.
Around 25,000 miners had converged on Madrid and linked up with union activists to protest against a 63 per cent cut in government subsidies to mining companies.
Most reached the capital in 500 buses – but many had walked for weeks in what observers were calling their “Jarrow March,” an echo of the October 1936 protest march against unemployment and extreme poverty in north-east England.
Miners wearing hard hats and carrying walking sticks marched with relatives and sympathisers under a hot sun surrounded by huge puffs of firework smoke.
They were chanting: “No to the closure of coal mining – yes to the reactivation of the mining regions” and were greeted with applause from passers-by.
Unions say cuts will completely destroy coal mining in Spain.
On Tuesday night the miners had been received as heroes in Puerta del Sol, one of Madrid’s main plazas.
David Menendez, who has worked down the pits for 10 years, came from Asturias in the north by bus with relatives and fellow miners. “I’m here to defend my work,” Mr Menendez said.
He said: “Rajoy is committing crimes against the economy and killing it.”
Spanish coal’s state subsidies are due to be eliminated by 2018 under EU agreements.
National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Yorkshire area chairman Chris Skidmore said: “We condemn any action taken against the miners.
And Labour MP and former NUM president Ian Lavery said: “I salute the Spanish miners in their efforts to secure a future for themselves and their families.
“I urge miners from across the world to support the strikers by whatever means they can. Solidarity forever.”
See also here.
The “black march” of Spanish miners, which was welcomed by more than 25,000 in Madrid, was brutally attacked by riot police: here.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the right-wing Popular Party announced a new €65 billion package of cuts Wednesday, the fourth since his election last November: here.
The global capitalist crisis is increasingly affecting the German economy: here.