About 200 miners belonging to the Workers’ Commissions trade union have come up with a new way of expressing their rage.
Spain’s miners have blocked roads, built barricades and have been in running battles with the National Police. But on the 19th day of their strikes and protests against cuts that could shut down Spain’s coal mining industry and destroy centuries’ old communities, they managed to find room for a bit of humour.
On Friday, about 200 coal miners employed by the mining firm Hunosa approached the Popular Party headquarters in Oviedo, Asturias, and dropped their pants. They then unveiled their message for the country’s ruling political party:
‘The Popular Party’s cuts have left us naked.’ This is a clever play on words ‘Los recortes del PP que nos han dejado en pelotas’ but it means they have ‘robbed us of everything’, a common theme of Spain’s anti-austerity protests.
More than 8,000 miners in the region of Asturias have been on indefinite strike since June 1 over cuts to subsidies that threaten 40,000 jobs in mining and related occupations.
The European Union is demanding that mining subsidies will be abolished by 2014 and under pressure from the EU and International Monetary Fund to slash its budget deficit, the right-wing government of Mariano Rajoy is accelerating cuts to mining industry subsidies.
The 2012 budget included a 64% cut in mining industry subsidies from €703 million to €253 million.
Since the strike began, some miners have been involved in a sit-in at the Candin mine in Langredo and the Santiago mine shaft in Aller. A camp has been erected in front of the Congress building in the regional capital Oviedo.
Earlier this month, miners protesting in Madrid were brutally attacked by police who made a large number of arrests. In response, miners erected barricades across main roads and railway lines, disrupting transport in the region. Police have been entering mining villages, using teargas and rubber bullets to disperse strikers and break up barricades.
The mining subsidies are a small part of the devastating €27 billion package of cuts unveiled in April. Spending on education is to be cut by €2.2 billion, health care by €3.9 billion and programmes helping people find work by €1.2 billion.
Meanwhile Spanish banks, whose speculation on the (now collapsed) housing market is central to Spain’s economic problems today, were last weekend granted €100 billion by the EU.