Spanish miners are protesting in Madrid against government cuts that threaten the livelihood of thousands of workers in Austurias, Spain. In order to comply with European Union austerity measures, the Spanish government is planning to reduce subsidies for the mines from €300 million to €110 million. Spain’s largest trade union, the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), said such cuts will lead “to the shutdown of coal mining and the abandonment of the mining districts to their fate.”
More than 8,000 Austurian miners have been on indefinite strike since the end of May, and have been engaged in violent conflict with police for much of this. Miners have occupied a mineshaft, created barricades of burning rubber tires, and peppered police with rocks, stones, nuts, bolts, and homemade rockets. In response, police have attacked the miners with batons, tear gas, and rubber bullets.
Here’s a video of the conflict, taken by The Guardian‘s Jason Parkinson:
Richard Seymour, author of the popular socialist blog Lenin’s Tomb, pointed out that this has happened before in Austurias. In addition to a failed 1934 uprising against Fascist dictator Francisco Franco:
The Asturian miners have embarked on a new ‘Marcha Negra’, a repeat of a famous action twenty years ago in 1992, when miners marched across the country to Madrid in defiance of job losses and cuts. Last night, the miners arrived in Madrid, surrounded by approx 150,000 supporters, about ten times the size of the reception in 1992. The Spanish media blacked it out, but it feels more like ostrich behaviour than effective censorship. This is coming alongside a fresh wave of cuts and VAT increases. Unlike in 1992, the government is actively broadening the base of social and industrial rebellion.