Spanish coal women marching

This video says about itself:

11 July 2012

Riot police fired rubber bullets Wednesday at Spanish coal miners protesting in the streets of Madrid over subsidy cuts they fear will jeopardize their meager livelihood.

One of the slogans of the women participating in the miners’ demonstrations says: “Support coal, not Bourbon [the Spanish royal dynasty]”.

By Tom Gill in Britain:

The coal women of Spain are on the march

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Women from Asturias, Leon and Aragon marched and sang through Madrid at the weekend.

The marchers were the wives, mothers and sisters of miners whose jobs will go in two years’ time, along with thousands of others who depend on the coalmining industry for their livelihoods.

The march by the “coal women” came a year after miners walked up to 280 miles to Madrid from the mining towns of northern Spain in what became known as the “marcha negra” (black march) protest.

Last year on the demand of the EU the Spanish government cut subsidies to the coalmining industry by 63 per cent.

This body-blow to the mining industry in Spain will see the definitive closure of the mines by 2019. Further cuts to the industry will take place earlier, in 2015.

In a country where the banking crisis and the government’s austerity response have seen unemployment soar to 27 per cent – 57 per cent among under-25s – these measures involve the direct loss of 5,000 jobs, 3,000 in Asturias alone.

But when you include people who work in related employment there are around 40,000 jobs at stake.

“In Spain there is no industry that sustains as many direct and indirect jobs as mining,” the Leon group spokeswoman Raquel Balbuena told Spanish media.

“We are not speaking only of miners, but of bus drivers whose routes go to the mines, people carrying explosives, people who work with wood and so on.”

Balbuena and the others were accompanied on the march part of the way by neighbourhood groups and members of the indignados movement, who stopped to sing the Song of the People from hit musical Les Miserables outside the Madrid regional government.

Local people came out to support them, waving banners and placards reading: “Here they are – the coal women” and “We are all miners in Madrid.”

Balbuena, whose husband is a miner, says: “A year on things have got worse. That’s why we’re here.

“We want to pay tribute to those miners who came last year, walking from the coalfields, and who went on strike for more than a month.

“Those who were also at the barricades, those who locked themselves in the mines and take turns to watch the machinery to prevent the mining companies selling it off.”

The conditions imposed by the Mariano Rajoy government for 2015 don’t leave much room for manoeuvre.

All mines that have received subsidies will have to return them if they keep producing.

If they stop production and close, they won’t have to pay anything.

But the Ministry of Industry has presented no alternatives for the future economic development of the coalfields.

Are the mines such a millstone round the neck of the Spanish government?

It would seem not. It’s just that its priorities lie elsewhere.

A year ago as it was putting the finishing touches to its EU-mandated plan to shut down the coal industry, shaving €400 million (£350m) off public spending in total, it also secured support from Brussels for a deal worth a colossal €100 billion (£87bn) to bail out the banks.

So far the bankers, who kicked off Spain’s economic crisis by speculating on property and creating a housing bubble that eventually burst, have pocketed €41bn (£36bn).

It would cost a tiny fraction of this to keep the coalfields going.

“There are no other job opportunities,” Balbuena says.

“The coal basins are very small and we all live exclusively from the mines.

“What will happen to these people? Will they be forced to leave?”

Her husband has spent his entire life working as a miner.

“Where will someone who has been working for 40 years doing the same thing find work? Who will give him a job?” she asks.

The coal women want the plans to close the mines stopped, and are demanding a national plan for the industry that will enable the coalfields to remain in operation.

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy keeps counsel as corruption allegations fly. Rajoy ignores pressure to address six-figure kickback claims against him and other senior members of governing party: here.

5 thoughts on “Spanish coal women marching

  1. Shipyard workers protest in northern Spain

    Hundreds of shipyard workers protested in northern Spain on July 11 against a possible European Union (EU) ruling forcing the industry to return state aid.

    Shipbuilders have been badly affected since the EU ordered the end of subsidies for the sector in 2011.

    “Workers now fear Brussels may demand that the industry return the bulk of the €3 billion euros ($4.0 billion) it received in the form of tax incentives between 2005 and 2011,” said Agence France Presse.

    Protesting workers in Vigo, in Galicia, marched from the port to the European fishing agency offices shouting, “We want to work, not emigrate!”

    Navantia workers in the industrial city and naval station of Ferrol, also in Galicia, went on strike for two hours.

    Construction of the Australian Royal Navy’s 25,000 tonne Landing Helicopter Ship HMAS Adelaide, the last ship being made at the Ferrol estuary shipyard, was halted as 2,000 workers downed tools in protest.

    In Sestao, a city in the Basque region, workers marched between two yards.

    The Spanish shipyard association, representing 19 private yards, has warned that paying back the state aid would mean the end of the industry in Spain and the loss of 87,000 jobs.


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