About Us
Back Issues
The free weekly direct action newsheet published in Brighton since 1994 - Copyleft - Information for Action

Miner Threat

Around 8,000 Spanish miners took to the streets, and blocked them, in chaotic style this week. The actions are in protest against government plans to cut subsidies to the coal industry by 60%. While SchNEWS doesn't normally endorse fossil fuel subsidies, this is more about militant anti-austerity action than it is about the climate – the measures will completely devastate the sector in a country with an unemployment rate already hitting 25% overall, and 50% of young people.

In the latest chapter of Spanish civil unrest, the official indefinite strike involving 40 mines began on 23rd May, with ten miners staging an underground protest. By Monday (4th), coinciding with road transport strikes, rioting spread across the capital of Madrid and the region of Asturias.

Sixteen major roads and motorways were blockaded with one burning tire block causing a five-mile jam for over two hours. On another A-road, a truckload of wood was overturned on the asphalt.

Clashes with the riot police resulted in the chucking of rocks and homemade rockets, while elsewhere there were sit-in protests at mines and outside the government offices. Other 'unidentified people' pulled the wiring out of the CCTV at a tunnel on Huerna highway. After the inevitable running battles with the cops, just six people were arrested for public disorder offences.

The Civil Guard reported the seizure of large amounts of 'highly dangerous' materials including handmade rocket launchers, improvised slingshots, 15kg of rusty tips, ball bearings of various sizes and cans of gasoline. Government forces promised to come down with the full force of the law on protesters – but didn't succeed in putting them off.

True to their roots – miners are traditionally one of the most militant workers groups in Spain – the strikers show no signs of tiring. As the week progressed so did the roadblocks and closures. On one A-road, when road users began using an alternative route protesters hastily felled a tree across it. On Wednesday (6th), 500 miners cut off the main access point to the port of Gijon before marching to protest at the Albono thermal power plant. 60 roads were blocked with the guerilla-style tactics which prompted the Alsturias government office to begin organizing emergency supply convoys into the area.

Unions have called for a strike in all activity of the coalfields of Castile, Leon, Asturias and Aragon commencing on the 18th June.

There are 3 comments on this story...
Added By: James - 8th June 2012 @ 2:12 AM
I get that there always needs to be more class analysis and sophisticated analysis in general when it comes to climate change activism -- but I am not sure about supporting this. Aren't dropping coal subsidies something we would all welcome? Unions shouldn't be defending dirty industries (of course they should defend the people in those industries).
Added By: Louis Lingg - 14th June 2012 @ 9:03 AM
Well, I see your point James but I have to say that I agree with Schews on this one. We gotta support these guys. Climate change is THE biggest cluster fuck for humanity but... I've gotta go with the miners on this one. Hey we all have to make little exceptions now and again!

But seriously, we have to treat saving the planet as an all out WAR. Tactics are everything and you can't be a purist if you wanna win. (war is dirty) Alliances MUST be made (and broken) and ANYTHING goes (and any means are OK) if it give my kids and grand kids a chance to have a liveable planet.
Added By: Jo Makepeace - 14th June 2012 @ 2:11 PM
The fact is the removal of these subsidies is not about some great green leap forward for Spain but more about attacking the unions. Meanwhile, worldwide many of the supposed 'green' government subsidies actually do far more harm than good for our environment.

In this particular case the government's aims are to open up markets and reduce spending while the unions are attempting to protect jobs in a country with mass unemployment. While we wouldn't disregard climate change activism, it isn't the only struggle in town.
Stories about similar subjects...

Sadness and disappointment but no surprises as judges in Amsterdam rule against releasing Morgan the Orca back into the wild.

German anti-fascists take Berlin on 20th anniversary of comrade Silvio Meier's murder.

UPDATE: The sh*t's well and truly hit the fan since we published this interview last week... Stay tuned for more SchNEWS from the front...

Protesters hold an anti-austerity Plebs and PIIGS Banquet outside Lord Mayor's Banquet as a precursor to day of action and strikes across Europe.

Land occupiers fight back as cops try to evict for airport development in France

Anti-fascist vigilantes take to the roads on motorbikes around Athens as racist attacks increase.

Calais migrants fight back with road-blocking action

Immigrant's murder sparks arson in Greece as Golden Dawn Athens offices torched

Twitter: @SchNEWS