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Spain’s Coal Miners’ Strike to Block State Aid Cuts to Industry

31 May, 2012

Strikes, road blockades, and mine sit-ins will continue through tomorrow, 31 May, as 8,000 mineworkers at over 40 coal mines in northern Spain continue their protests against government action to cut coal subsidies.

Backed by mining unions within both of Spain’s major labour federations -- Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) and Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) – strikes that began last week will re-start today and tomorrow following the break-off of tripartite talks yesterday, 29 May.

The unions had hoped those negotiations would at least partially rescind the 64% subsidy cuts contained in the government’s budget.

Spanish Coal Miners on Strike Last Week

The strikes began last week, 23-24 May, and saw 100% participation by coal miners. They were halted in order to give a tripartite monitoring committee on coal an opportunity to scale back the subsidies. But after six hours of futile negotiations that lasted into yesterday evening, mineworkers’ unions of both federations announced resumption of strikes today and tomorrow in and around the cities of Aragon, Asturias, and Castilla y León, with a major demonstration planed in Madrid.

Even before talks started yesterday, miners began blocking major road arteries linking northern cities, and ten miners began sit-ins late Monday evening after their shifts ended at the Candín mine in Oviedo. The premature strikes were spontaneous and not authorised by the unions, but the protests depicted the deep frustration felt by Spanish miners to the proposed subsidy curtailments. corset for sale

The Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is adamant to enforce the 64% subsidy reduction in order to reduce the public deficit. But miners and their unions feel such a drastic cutback will be the death knell to coal-mining in Spain, a country that has shed 40,000 jobs over the past 20 year due to pit closures.