By Tom Gill:
Spanish coal miners ratchet up the pressure
Monday 09 July 2012
Spanish miners rallied in Madrid today for a day of protest demanding a reversal of subsidy-cuts which could cripple the country’s coal industry.
Their Black March on the capital comprised two columns – one from the north, made up of miners who have marched 250 miles from Asturias and Leon, and one from the north-east arriving from Aragon.
They merged in the capital to highlight a brutal attack on their sector which will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs and devastate coal-mining communities.
With this march the miners wanted to “take the conflict out of the pits and extend it to the rest of society to support their just demands,” said Agustin Martin, a leading figure in the Madrid section of Comisiones Obreras, which has been planning the reception of the miners.
The miners have received “great and warm support” in every town they passed, he said – adding that their demands have been endorsed “by virtually all political organisations, except the (governing) Popular Party, and a large majority of social organisations.”
For Marga Ferre of United Left, the miners “are giving a lesson to the whole country that things are won through struggle.”
The representative of the radical left formation hoped that the protests of the coal sector would spread to other areas of society, as the miners have historically acted as the vanguard of the labour movement.
Among those who turned out to welcome the miners to the capital were members of the “indignados” (indignant ones) movement, who on day one of the Black March 17 days ago established a Miners Support Group together with neighbourhood organisations of Madrid.
The indignados – the movement led by disaffected youth that exploded onto the national scene with occupations of Madrid’s central square, Plaza del Sol, in May 2011 – believe this conflict is part of the “massive transfer of income from the people to the banks and financial markets” and what they consider an attack on democracy and the people’s social rights and living conditions.
One main website of the movement declares: “We stand together with the miners’ resistance. Their struggle is ours.”
Youth movement the Platform of Youth Without Future has also expressed support for the Black March.
“The poor youth, whether unemployed, student or low-paid casual worker,” is on the side of coal miners, it says.
“This is a struggle for rights, for the right to a life worth living against the market system that robs us every day.”
The cuts by Mariano Rajoy’s right-wing government are in breach of a five-year Plan for Coal agreement signed between the government and unions last year.
Eight thousand mine workers will lose their livelihoods and a further 30,000 jobs will be affected indirectly if the 64 per cent cut to government mining subsidies, from €703 million (£560m) to €253m (£200m), goes through.
Spain’s miners, who walked off the job at the start of June, are the first major group of workers in Europe to go on indefinite strike against the austerity measures that are wreaking havoc across the continent.
Tom Gill blogs at revolting-europe.com