Thursday, July 12, 2012

the spanish miners strike

Spanish coalminers marched through Madrid on Wednesday making it clear that they would not give up on their struggle for the future of their collieries and their jobs. 200 of them had walked through on their 250 mile (400km), three-week march to reach the capital. Thousands more came in buses that made on the long trip from the northern regions of Asturias and Leon or the collieries of eastern Aragon and southern Puertollano. Tens of thousands of people turned out to greet the miners. A tense standoff saw occasional police charges, rubber bullets. At least 76 people were injured in clashes along Madrid's central Castellana Boulevard. Many are unaware of the indefinite strike by Spanish coalminers that began on 31 May and is already escalating to the point of near civil war in some areas of Asturias and León. 

"We'll keep going and, if nothing happens, the fight will just get harder,"
said Jórge Exposito, a miner from Mieres, northern Spain

The miners wish that the centre-right government of Mariano Rajoy return to a programme of subsidies to mining companies that has been dramatically chopped by 60% this year. But the government argues that Spain's coalmines are making losses and EU rules do not allow it to subsidise them for much longer. Instead, the prime minister devoted the morning to announcing a further austerity package to save the government €65bn (£51bn) over the next two and a half years. Many see the miners as in the vanguard of the fight against austerity measures. VAT goes up to 21 percent from 18 percent, and the reduced rate on some products such as food goes up to 10 percent from eight percent.With Spanish unemployment at 24%, few miners think they will find jobs elsewhere.

Celestino Duran, a miner from the Sant Lucía de Gordón coalfield, said: "If the mine closes then the whole community will disappear. We saw that happen in the neighbouring colliery at Cistierna. They closed it and a community of 2,000 people now has just 150 inhabitants."

These events naturally recalls the 1934 revolt by Asturias miners, where the miners in Asturias managed to take control of their whole region before being put down - a genuine uprising which was put down, as well as the fact that the first general strike under Franco was the Asturian miners' strike of 1962. And it is true that the miners have a long tradition of struggle. These are workers who spend much of their lives together, not merely sharing risks at work but living in the same communities. Solidarity is part of the  the taken-for-granted ways of acting that arise, seemingly spontaneously, from the mode of life of these communities. The workers have therefore responded to the government's attacks in an uncompromising fashion, by blockading motorways, and setting up ad hoc barricades on transport networks. When attacked, they have fought back against police. But it is by no means just the miners who have been drawn into this struggle. Across the region, several groups of workers have been on strike – transport workers, supply teachers and shipbuilders among them.

"British miners and those who supported the NUM owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Spanish trade unions and particularly the miners for their solidarity and financial support during 1984-85. It is now time to stand with them." John Cuningham Acting secretary, Spanish Miners' Solidarity Committee, and ex-miner, Dinnington Colliery, South Yorkshire, Carrie Hedderwick Sheffield Women Against Pit Closures, Ian Isaac Executive committee, South Wales NUM, 1982-87, and ex-miner, St John's Colliery, Steve Brunt Ex-miner, Arkwright Colliery, Doncaster


1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'am proud to be a Socialist & proud of all the Welsh miners & Welsh men who went to fight Franco in the Spanish Civil War for Socialism , I grew up in a mining village & was taught about great Socialists & I will always say true to my beliefs in Socialism & it will come back .