The Spanish miners’ ‘Black March’ will arrive in Madrid Sunday ahead of a major demonstration next week to demand a reversal of cuts to subsidies to the country’s coal industry.
Two columns – one from the ‘north’ comprising miners who have marched 400 kilometres from Asturias and León, and one arriving from Aragón in the ‘north east’- will merge in the Spanish capital for a day of protest on 10 July against measures that will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs, and devastate coal mining communities.
The UGT and Comisiones Obreras trade union confederations, who represent the miners, will be taking part in a mass rally and march which will see the protests outside the Industry Ministry.
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 trade union, 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 organizations, except the [governing] Popular Party, and a large majority of social organisations.’
For Marga Ferré 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 planning to turn out Sunday to welcome the miners to the capital will be members of the indignados movement, who on the day one of the ‘Black March’ 15 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 that 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. ‘
The youth movement, the Platform of Youth Without Future has also expressed support for the Black March, stating: ‘The poor youth, whether unemployed, student or low-paid casual worker” is on the side of coal miners and that ‘this is a struggle for rights, for the right to a life worth living against the market system that robs us every day.’
8,000 mineworkers will lose their livelihoods and a further 30,000 jobs will be affected indirectly if the 64% cut to government mining subsidies, from €703 million to €253 million, 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 wreaking havoc across the Continent.
The cuts by the right-wing government of Mariano Rajoy are in breach of a five-year Plan for Coal agreement signed between government and unions last year.