Miners Striking in Northern Spain

The conservative Spanish government has slashed long time state subsidies of the coal mining industry, threatening entire villages with an end to their way of life.  Fair enough, say the free-market cult.  Let the market decide.  From the other hand, however, the government river of money to the banks has been wide and deep.  The “market” in the streets says this is not to be borne.

 Spanish coal miners burned tyres and blocked roads on Monday during a mass strike to protest against subsidy cuts that they say threaten tens of thousands of jobs.

Tens of thousands of people marched in the northern towns of Leon and Langreo in the latest in a month of protests. The strike was also called in some 50 other mining towns.

Spain’s cash-strapped central government has slashed subsidies to the coal sector this year to 111 million euros ($142 million) from 301 million euros last year, part of wide-ranging cuts to lower its deficit.

The miners say this is unfair especially when the government has also sought billions of euros to stabilise its banking sector.


The fires, slingshots and even home-made rockets used by some of the miners, after the Guardia Civil advanced on crowds firing rubber bullets, have appeared after weeks of alarm and rising resistance to the “austerity” measures [austerity should always be understood as austerity-for-you-but-not-for us.]  The two big unions, the UGCT and CCCO, called for an open-ended strike at  [in Spanish] the mines, in late May.  This followed weeks of sporadic work stoppages and protests in mines and mining communities throughout Austurias.

Of course, not only are the protests shaking up Spain and the government there, they will not go un-noticed in other countries where the austerity-for-you-but-not-for-me leaders are striking up the bands and shouldering their rifles.