you're reading...

Spain’s Miners Start March to Madrid

Around 200 Spanish miners set out Friday on a march set to culminate July 11 in Madrid with a protest against government plans to slash subsidies to the coal sector.

Family, friends and neighbours gathered in several towns in the northern regions of Asturias and Leon and the east-central region of Teruel to give the marchers an enthusiastic send-off.

The “Black March” follows more than three weeks of strikes and sometimes-violent protests against planned cuts of more than 60% in government support for the coal mining industry amid a brutal austerity programme.

Thousands of people cheered in Mieres, Asturias, as 80 miners began the 400-kilometer (248-mile) journey to the capital singing an anthem to St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners.

In Bembibre, Leon, a crowd congregated in the main square to salute the 25 area miners taking part in the procession.

One of the marchers, Belarmino Bernardo, identified himself as a colleague of the seven miners who have spent more than a month underground as part of a protest at the Santa Cruz del Sil mine and said he was ‘very happy’ to be able to play a role in the struggle to preserve the coal-mining industry.

The right-wing Popular Party government cuts mean the entire industry is in danger, and clashes between the police and miners become increasingly violent in the pit towns of the northern region of Asturias over the past three weeks.

On Monday a general strike hit mining communities in Asturias, Leon, Galicia and Aragon. The miners have been on strike for three weeks in an attempt to force the government to negotiate.

‘I’m not going back to work until a solution is found to this,’ one masked miner told television cameras. “If that means I have to sack myself, well then I will.’

Subsidies to the coal industry are one of the major casualties of the austerity measures brought in by the right wing conservative Rajoy government, which took power in December.

Next year’s budget cuts to coal subsidies  to the mines will save Spain just €190m, compared to the billions being ploughed into banks that caused Spain’s financial and economic crisis.

The cuts put at risk 8,000 mining jobs and thousands more that depend on their salaries. ‘This town will die,’ complained a shop owner in Langreo.

In a country where the jobless total is already 24% – and more than 50% among the under-25s – miners fear they have no chance of finding alternative work in the foreseeable future. They want Spain’s government to keep subsidies going until 2018, which is the limit placed on them by the European Union.

Spain’s limited energy resources mean the country must keep the mines open to protect itself against future shocks and price rises in the global energy market, the miners argue.

‘If the current proposal is not changed the closure of mining and the paralysis in the reactivation of the local economy will have a major impact on our energy policy, as coal is a strategic sector for a country with a huge dependency on energy imports,’ a spokesman for the Asturias mining branch of Comisiones Obreras (Workers’ Commissions) union said.

The region’s socialist chief, José Ángel Fernández Villa, is sympathetic. ‘Neither Asturias nor Spain can allow themselves to do without coal for reasons that are at once strategic, social and regional,’ he said.

But talks between miners and the industry ministry have broken up amid growing rage against Rajoy’s government. A suited dummy of the prime minister could be seen hanging from one of the towers at Caborana mine near Oviedo on Monday.

The march started Friday is expected to take several weeks and will end with a mass demonstration in the Spanish capital.

EFE, The Guardian

A campaign of international solidarity with Spain’s miners has just been launched by LabourStart in partnership with industriALL global labour union. Get Involved! 

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or email [email protected]


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Twitter Updates

  • A Week in Revolting Europe paper.li/tomgilltweets/… #austerity #politics #poverty #inequality #protest #banks #pensions #wages #unions 1 week ago
  • A Gathering Storm: Eurozone in 2014 | Jacques Sapir | Revolting Europe wp.me/p1bMfw-1XC 1 week ago
  • RT @labourstart: France: Two Total refineries in France to shut down over strikes ow.ly/rNovF 1 week ago
  • RT @USILive: Banking Union without Reform? - usilive.org/banking-union-… 1 week ago
  • EU credit downgrade 'pours cold water on narrative that things getting better in eurozone' -The Economist. economist.com/blogs/charlema… #austerity 1 week ago
  • RT @corporateeurope: 'Elected politicians excluded from #EU-US negotiations', writes @StaffaniDK #TTIP notat.dk/elected-politi… 1 week ago
  • Women plan mass #protests in #Spain today against law changes taking abortion rights back 30 years newsinfo.inquirer.net/549871/spain-s… 1 week ago
  • RT @euronews: Major austerity drive in Portugal deemed illegal eurone.ws/JOjqV8 1 week ago
  • RT @SocialEurope: Read on SEJ: Why Wage Depression Is Not The Way Out For Spain bit.ly/19xQlGP 1 week ago
  • Families of kids with special needs issue SOS as disability benefits cut & schools cost too much ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_artic… #austerity #greece 2 weeks ago
Follow @tomgilltweets

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Anti-social Europe in numbers


Key facts and figures on wages across the EU

Wealth Inequality in Europe

Get the key facts and figures


A different take on European issues

Italy’s Healthcare Crisis

Health services are ‘close to collapse’ in Rome, Turin and Naples after years of cuts and privatisation.


99% of the 167 000 Madrilenos who signed a petition rejected the sell off local water company

Filthy Rich

France's Bernard Arnault of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) empire is worth $41 billion. Check out Europe's rich list


Private banks receive half-trillion-euro gift from ECB


Workers and citizens stand up for themselves


Workers are on a go-slow over privatisation

Massive Spanish protest

Half a million take to the streets over labour market deregulation


Hundreds of workers occupied the factory of ArcelorMittal in Florange in the north of France

International Workers Day

International Workers Day 2012

RSS Watching Corporate Europe

  • Pesticides, tobacco and greedy lawyers: the most read stories from CEO in 2013
  • EFSA urged to clean up list of 'public interest' organisations
  • NGOs welcome Ombudsman’s damning report which heavily criticises Commission

RSS Hate Crimes in Europe

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Fight discrimination in Europe – Amnesty Int’l

  • Listen to Roma Rights
  • Russia: Total disregard for human rights on “Constitution Day”


in Italy the home is a very dangerous place to be


Workers down tools over PM Monti's attack on labour rights


Concentration camps and a massive migrant marine cemetery





Read the statement by Lafontaine and Melenchon

PM Rajoy One Year On

Spaniards are not impressed








The Dossier