Coal mines ignite in Asturias (with updates)

Coal mines ignite in Asturias (with updates)

Coal miners in the historically militant Asturias region of Spain have been fighting a bitter struggle for survival. Please see the comments below for frequent updates.

Around 8,000 miners have been involved in ongoing strikes and militant protests after the government announced cuts to subsidies for the region's coal mines.

There are around 40 mines in the country, mainly in the north, where they offer vital jobs in an increasingly depressed economy. The end of the subsidy will effectively mean the end of those jobs, as Spanish coal prices will increase beyond those of imported alternatives. The strikers view winning the strike as essential to their livelihoods. It is increasingly becoming a set-piece battle as the government deepens its austerity program.

Consequently, they have utilised various forms of direct action to maximise the impact of the strike.

During the week, miners set up 16 roadblocks, severely affecting traffic in the region. One burning tire block caused a five-mile jam for over two hours. They also blocked access to the main port of Gijon, closed access to a major road tunnel after "persons unknown" sabotaged the CCTV, and protested outside a major power station. Attempts to break the roadblocks to transport people and goods in and out of the mines led to running battles with police. The strikers used rocks, concrete blocks, and home-made rocket launchers.

On Friday miners blocked several roads and two railway lines. A mineshaft is occupied, and strikers have camped out in the main square of the regional capital, Oviedo.

Posted By

Django
Jun 10 2012 09:20

Share


  • The strikers view winning the strike as essential to their livelihoods. It is increasingly becoming a set-piece battle as the government deepens its austerity program.

Attached files

Comments

Joseph Kay
Jul 13 2012 06:57

This is from rubber bullets [edit: rubber balls, not bullets] in Madrid/Sol, which the press aren't reporting apparently ("Se está liando en #Madrid y ningún medio de comunicación dice nada... En Sol no sólo disparan pelotas de goma ¡OJO! —BALAS-DE-GOMA") via CNT Madrid facebook.

fingers malone
Jul 13 2012 07:12

Fuck that is awful.

Yeah thats a clarification we probably should have made earlier. Those mental guns you see the riot police with shoot "pelotas de goma". Weve all been translating that lazily as rubber bullets, but they are not, it is a hard rubber ball that can take your eye out, which they did in the last general strike, or kill you if it hits you square in the head, but they are not as dangerous as rubber bullets. Thing is there isnt an English translation as they dont use them here. If they are firing real rubber bullets as well, that is a big escalation as they dont usually.

Sorry for bad punctuation but I cant find the apostrophe on this keyboard.

fingers malone
Jul 13 2012 07:46

Just translated this quickly.

"The government cannot let the miners win this trial of strength because if they win, they will give a bad example to the rest of the workers, and we might take notes, learn the lesson, follow their example to get heard, to not be stepped on, to not keep losing: struggle, resist, build nets of solidarity, keep firm, keep going to the final consecuences, take the streets, take them over. This is the purpose of the very violent police repression against the miners and their criminalisation in the media.
For the same reasons the workers need the miners to win this arm wrestle: because their victory will clear the way for us, and their defeat will make it more difficult to mount resistance. For this reason we are all miners, and we have to be with them. For justice, for history, for memory, because they have earned it. But also for us, because if they are afraid for their future, ours is black, coal black"

Joseph Kay
Jul 13 2012 08:03

no it's pelotas de goma, sloppy translation on my part. if those were rubber bullets that guy would probably be dead (if i understand it right, rubber bullets proper are alternative ammo/cartridges for standard firearms and can kill if fired directly at people).

Mark.
Jul 29 2012 16:48

'The Durham Miners Association has arranged for a delegation of 11 striking Miners to attend the Durham Miners Gala'

Tomorrow - mind you Ed Milliband will be there as well.

Edit: report on this here

Quote:

The most enthusiastic applause came for two Asturian miners fresh up from Madrid. One was a member of the C.C.O.O. and the other was from the socialist U.G.T.. I spoke to both of them and told the UGT socialist that I had been a member of the CNT when I worked in Gibraltar and lived in La Linea. The lad from the UGT was the most approachable and was friendly towards the Spanish anarchists and the CNT. Both speakers spoke well, giving details of their dispute and fearing the demise of their mining communities in the Asturias and Leon. The dispute, which is small, has sparked public support in Spain and has been going for over 50-days with a march into Madrid, last week, and an occupation of some pits.

The NUM gave the Asturian miners £5,000, and the Durham Miners' Association gave another £5,000.

Mark.
Jul 13 2012 10:22
fingers malone
Jul 13 2012 11:37
Joseph Kay wrote:
("Se está liando en #Madrid y ningún medio de comunicación dice nada... En Sol no sólo disparan pelotas de goma ¡OJO! —BALAS-DE-GOMA") via CNT Madrid facebook.

"Its kicking off in Madrid and the media arent saying a thing.... in Sol they are not only shooting pelotas de goma, WATCH OUT! RUBBER BULLETS"

So the facebook says they are using both, but the photo could be pelotas de goma, although I think usually pelotas de goma give you big bruises rather than those cuts, but maybe that was from really close up.

Mark.
Jul 13 2012 11:54

Marcha Negra in Gijón (Asturias) tomorrow, supported by various unions including CSI and CGT. This seems to be about wider opposition to the cuts rather than just the miners.

fingers malone
Jul 13 2012 12:04

Seen a photo going round now, yes it is pelotas de goma AND plastic bullets.

Reply to Mark, yes seems like there is a generalised mobilisation going on, there are 5 marches of unemployed people from all over marching to Madrid.
The cuts announced yesterday were wide ranging and include health cuts, education cuts, attack on pensions, lower public sector pay, cuts to dole money and a rise in VAT.

CSI, I saw them once in Seville, they split from Comisiones after strikes in the shipyards I think. They are a good combative union.

Joseph Kay
Jul 13 2012 17:46
fingers malone wrote:
Reply to Mark, yes seems like there is a generalised mobilisation going on, there are 5 marches of unemployed people from all over marching to Madrid.
The cuts announced yesterday were wide ranging and include health cuts, education cuts, attack on pensions, lower public sector pay, cuts to dole money and a rise in VAT.

'if there's no justice for the people, there will be no peace for the government'

'unemployed marches arrive 21st of July in Madrid'

Mark.
Jul 13 2012 20:52

El País: Cabinet approves biggest austerity drive in democratic history

Quote:

Public servants stormed the streets again on Friday to protest the “stickup” and the “aggression” perpetrated by the government of Mariano Rajoy, which on Friday approved new cost-cutting measures — including the elimination of civil servants’ extra Christmas payment and some of the “personal days” they can take — as part of a 65-billion-euro austerity drive.

The protestors blocked several major arteries in Madrid, and one of the unions, CSI-F, called a public sector strike for September. “We will not remain here with our arms folded while they take away our rights,” said one CSI-F member.

List of anti-cuts protests today --- video clip

El País: The Spanish revolt

fingers malone
Jul 13 2012 20:59

The CSI-F, jesus they are a really useless corporatist right wing union. Things must be getting serious.

Thats a great poster with all the marches on it, I could work out all the cities by position except Salamanca.

Mark.
Jul 13 2012 20:55
wojtek
Jul 13 2012 22:26


11th July: Rayo Vallecano Ultras welcomes miners to Madrid

fingers malone
Jul 14 2012 08:21

an old lady arrested in Madrid

Mark.
Jul 14 2012 13:32

Madrid yesterday - I'm not even sure what this was about, apart from being against the cuts, but I get the impression that something is taking off quite rapidly in Spain, with plenty of reports of protests taking place or planned.

For example here's a press report claiming that public sector workers, including police, guardia civil, prison officers and judges, are planning their own 15M style camp:

Quote:

Policías, guardias civiles, bomberos, administrativos, jueces... Los funcionarios de toda España están convocando una macroacampada para protestar por los recortes que anunció el miércoles Rajoy y que aprobó ayer el consejo de ministros. Será como la del 15-M y a escasos metros de la Puerta del Sol.

CC.OO are talking about a "probable" general strike in October. The same report quotes a CSIF spokesman as saying that the spending power of public sector workers has already been reduced by 21 per cent since 2009, which I suppose helps explain the fighting talk coming from some unexpected quarters.

Quote:

El secretario provincial de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) de Lugo, Jesús Castro, ha anunciado hoy que "probablemente" en el mes de octubre los sindicatos convocarán una huelga general contra las últimas medidas de ajuste anunciadas por el presidente del Gobierno, Mariano Rajoy, y que serán aprobados hoy en Consejo de Ministros.

Castro vaticinó que este será un año "caliente" de movilizaciones, mientras participaba en una concentración de una treintena trabajadores de Correos.

"No hay otro camino, la negociación se rompió hace mucho tiempo, han impuesto sus criterios y la clase trabajadora tenemos que movilizarnos", argumentó.

Por su parte, el portavoz de CSIF, Alfonso Hortas, calculó que la caída del poder adquisitivo de los funcionarios desde el año 2009 ronda el 21 por ciento.

It's interesting that the initiative seems to be coming from the mainstream rather than alternative unions. As to where this is all heading I think it's anyone's guess - maybe 'Spain, the new Greece'.

fingers malone wrote:

The CSI-F, jesus they are a really useless corporatist right wing union. Things must be getting serious.

As an example (admittedly extreme) of things getting serious here's a quote from a regular poster on alasbarricadas faced with being unable to pay for medical treatment for chronic illness due to new charges being brought in:

Juanatan wrote:

Creo que nunca me he sincerado como lo voy a hacer hoy en este foro.

Soy enfermo crónico. Mi tratamiento tiene un coste mensual de unos 1000 euros. Si el gobierno me obliga a pagar, me veré obligado a no medicarme y condenado a morir. Antes de que eso ocurra, lo digo bien claro: me llevaré por delante a todos los que pueda. Si alguien está en mi misma situación, y tiene ganas de organizar algo para el colectivo de enfermos crónicos afectados, que hable por aqui o me abra un privado.

He vivido una vida miserable de esclavo desde los 15 años trabajando para patrones a cambio de salarios de subsistencia, estoy acostumbrado a sufrir todo tipo de penurias, y nunca he temido a la muerte. Por mi enfermedad, y por mi situación personal, la muerte es para mí más una liberación que otra cosa. Por eso, ahora más que nunca, no tengo miedo a lo que me pueda pasar si lucho hasta EL FINAL con todas las consecuencias.

SALUD COMPAÑEROS, LOS QUE VAMOS A MORIR OS SALUDAMOS.

I suppose with austerity measures on this scale there must be plenty of lesser stories of personal desperation. If the post-transition consensus of welfare and economic growth is breaking down then what happens to the moderate centre left demographic that has mostly voted PSOE or IU and chosen to support or join the UGT or CC.OO rather than anything more radical? It looks like part of it at least is now stirring.

Mark.
Jul 14 2012 13:47
fingers malone
Jul 14 2012 14:00
Mark. wrote:

I suppose with austerity measures on this scale there must be plenty of lesser stories of personal desperation. If the post-transition consensus of welfare and economic growth is breaking down then what happens to the moderate centre left demographic that has mostly voted PSOE or IU and chosen to support or join the UGT or CC.OO rather than anything more radical? It looks like part of it at least is now stirring.

Good posts Mark.

Members of some of the "moderate" unions have been getting pretty full on for quite a while. In the last two general strikes a lot of the roadblocks etc were organised by workers in CCOO and UGT, metalworkers for example in my city built roadblocks on the access roads to the industrial estates.

fingers malone
Jul 14 2012 14:20

I think the videos are from the demos by the public sector workers, they are cutting their pay, pensions and cutting services.

fingers malone
Jul 14 2012 14:34

The Asturian miners who got arrested on heavy charges in Madrid have been let out now on bail. There is a nice message from CSI Asturias thanking Solidaridad Obrera in Madrid for all their help and solidarity with them.

Mark.
Jul 14 2012 18:45

fingers malone wrote:

I think the videos are from the demos by the public sector workers, they are cutting their pay, pensions and cutting services.

This video makes it clearer

http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23quesejodan

Auto
Jul 14 2012 18:42

#quesejodan seems to have become the big hashtag to follow on Twitter if you can read Spanish.

Mark.
Jul 15 2012 00:22

Quote:

On Saturday, footballer David Villa visited the Candín mine in the town of Langreo (Asturias) –where four miners have been involved in a sit-in protest for the past four days– to pledge his support to the Spanish miners. Villa said he hoped the conflict would be "resolved as soon as possible".

The Barca player –who comes from a mining family– said that "the miners should be listened to" and that "their situation must be taken into account". Villa told journalists that he had been following the events closely, but had not been able to visit the coalfield areas –from where he comes– due to his team's training programme.

"I've always supported the cause and now even more so throughout the conflict. I hope it's over soon", he said. The Asturian striker added that he had spoken to the sit-in miners, who he said were in "high spirits, and determined to fight on" and would "not give up the battle for their rights". "Their determination shows how committed they are to the future of mining", he added.

http://www.marca.com/2012/07/14/en/football/barcelona/1342289619.html

Harrison
Jul 15 2012 01:32

thanks the comrades posting updates

Mark.
Jul 15 2012 10:47
Auto wrote:
#quesejodan seems to have become the big hashtag to follow on Twitter if you can read Spanish.

"¡Que se jodan!" - an explanation in English

If you can read Spanish there's some mainstream media commentary here.

Mark.
Jul 15 2012 11:11

Zona Crítica: Soy minero

Isaac Rosa wrote:

That it should be the miners, in these hypertechnologised times, who should be the ones to show the rest of the workers the way, gives pause for thought. That in the era of flexible enterprises, information society, global economy, virtual wealth and displaced and de-ideologised workers, it should have to be the old miners, with their tough tools, their calloused hands and their strong collective consciousness, to be the ones to come out into the light and start walking so that we follow them, ought to make us think about what has happened to workers in recent years, what it is we have done and what we have allowed to be done to us.

Some will say that the miners’ leadership these days is entirely fitting: if the crisis and the anti-crisis policies mean a leap back in time for workers, a rough return to the 19th century, who better than the miners at the head of the demonstration, who so resoundingly incarnate those early days of the labour movement. But we are not faced with a matter of historical fittingness, but much more.

The moving scenes lived out in every village through which the miners have passed on their march toward Madrid, the welcome, the words of encouragement, the assistance received, the solidarity extended throughout the entire country, in the streets and on social networks, and finally the reception in the capital and the accompaniment in their protest by so many workers, ought to be a turning point, a point of inflection in the construction of collective resistances. The miners have broken something, they have awakened something that was asleep inside us, they have pushed us.

I know that there is no small component of sympathy that stays clear of the reasons for their protest. There is something of historic justice, of memory, of working class sentimentality if you will, in the affection that the miners receive these days, and I say affection deliberately, because at times it has more to do with affection than with an understanding of their demands. The figure of the miner with his helmet, his lamp and his blackened face has been strongly rooted in the working class imaginary for centuries, and hence the usual discourse, about those who are ‘privileged’, which some people in right-wing media try to use to cancel them out, does not work (for that reason, and because mining has always represented what is most tough and dangerous about the world of work, their fatigue, injuries, illnesses and accidents do not fit well with any privilege). For of all this, for their popular status as heroes of the working class (demonstrated, elsewhere, in so many episodes of heroic struggle indeed over centuries), it seems natural that the miners should meet with so much warmth while on their way through the villages. I do not think a march on foot, of let’s say, waiters, builders, journalists or civil servants, would get so much support, so much affection, so many welcomes, homages and approvals, however just their demands might be.

But beyond this emotional component, the moment in which this exit from the mines has come about is important. In a moment of economic terror such as this one, when we workers feel cornered, hopeless, and our resistance is limited to guessing where the next blow will come from, the appearance of the miners on the scene can be the little light at the end of the tunnel (the tunnel in which we workers wander lost, not the stereotypical tunnel of exit from the crisis where the only light in sight is that of the oncoming train up ahead), the signal we were waiting for. The miners are giving us a lesson that we ought not let pass us by, and which goes beyond their demands, just as these may be.

And they are. The miners in their struggle have right on their side, and I am not going to go on at length on why they are right, They are right for all the reasons you will have already heard and read about these days, but even if they did not have those motives, they would still have right on their side, because of an elementary question of historic justice. We owe them, them and the generations of miners who go before them, and that is enough to oblige us to respect their way of life and their territories, to offer them decent ways out and not begrudge them a sum of money that is small change compared to the financial bailouts. But I insist: what interests me today is not so much their particular struggle (which I support), but that lesson of dignity, solidarity and resistance that they give to all other workers. We have all felt called forth these days by the miners’ struggle, in two directions: because in their demand for a decent future there is a place for all of us who equally lack that future; and because the forcefulness of their struggle makes the poverty of our reaction to the attacks we have suffered all the more obvious.

Regarding the former, the miners’ demand extends to all of us. In the miners we see our past, our class consciousness that at some moment we lost or had taken away from us, the possibilities for collective struggle that today we cannot find. But above all, we see in them our future: in their cry not to be abandoned, not to disappear, not to see their villages and their lands devastated by unemployment and inactivity, a glimpse opens up of the future that awaits us all, converted into workers abandoned to our fate, headed for a long time of scarcity, of misery: at the mercy of a wind that leaves nothing standing; with millions of jobs under extinction, and the whole of Spain turned into a huge mining region threatened by desolation and a lack of a way out.

With regard to the latter, the classic toughness with which the miners resist, the violence with which they respond to violence, enjoins us to look for another word to name what the rest of us do, that which we often exaggerate in calling it resistance. Whilst we ‘set ablaze’ social networks, miners set real fire to barricades on the motorways. Whilst we call a strike every two years, with no great conviction and above all without continuity, the miners opt, inflexible, for an indefinite strike lasting weeks. Whilst we write posts and tweets denouncing the cutbacks (and I am the first to do so), they lock themselves into the pits, paralyse the traffic, put entire regions onto a war footing, and finally start walking along the highway. Whilst we paint ingenious posters and compose nice couplets to shout out at the demonstration, they go up against the Guardia Civil.  Whilst we retweet and hit thousands of ‘Likes’ to support the demands of those collectives that are being punished the most, they go from village to village giving and receiving hugs, sharing food and shelter. Whilst we await the next anniversary to go back and take the squares, they set down in the Puerta del Sol after having made the squares of all those towns they passed through their own.

The lesson is clear: faced with the all-out attack against workers, these are not times for hashtags, but for barricades. Faced with the ephemeral solidarity of the social network and inoffensive outrage, these are times for walking along together, for sharing lock-ins and marches, for meeting one another in the streets, for embracing each other as we had no longer embraced, as in these days the miners would embrace those who awaited them at the entrance to each village.

Because of all this, the government cannot allow the miners to win this contest: because if they triumph, they will be giving a bad example to the rest of the workers, because we might take note, to learn the lesson, to follow their example so as to be listened to, not trampled on, so as not to keep on losing: to struggle, to resist, to build networks of solidarity, to hold firm, to hang on until the last, to take to the street, and to take it back. Hence the immense police repression against the miners and their criminalisation in the media.

For the same reasons, we workers need the miners to win this contest: because their victory will clear the way for us, and on the other hand their defeat will make it more difficult for us to raise resistance. That is why today we are all miners, and we have to be there with them. For justice, for history, for memory, because they deserve it. But also for us, because if they fear for their future, ours is blacker than black, black coal.

Mark.
Jul 15 2012 23:45

Public sector workers demonstrating against cuts a few hours ago. Report in Spanish here. Police have been taking part so obviously the ones on duty haven't been attacking anyone today.


Police on the demo

http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23acampadacongreso
http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23acampadafuncionarios

Edit: reports on twitter now of an impending police charge to clear the remaining protesters.

Mark.
Jul 16 2012 20:52

Photos from yesterday - which ended with a few arrests

Live updates from today's protests http://eskup.elpais.com/*protestas_recortes_2012

AFP: Protests multiply against cuts in Spain

Quote:

Hundreds of Spanish firemen, police officers and nurses marched yelling through the streets Monday, denouncing as "robbery" the pay cuts enforced under Spain's latest fiscal emergency plan.

"Hands up, this is a robbery," cried protestors as they blocked a major thoroughfare in central Madrid in a demonstration organised through messages on social networking sites such as Twitter.
[…]
Thousands of people protested on the streets of Madrid on Friday after the government approved the measures, and again on Sunday evening, when they marched to the parliament where access was blocked by riot police.
[…]
Spain's two main unions, UGT and CCOO, have called for a day of demonstrations on Thursday.

CCOO leader Ignacio Fernandez Toxo said on Monday that a general strike later was "inevitable" if the government maintained the austerity plan.
[…]

fingers malone
Jul 18 2012 22:50

The government is importing coal from Colombia, the miners are blocking the coal trucks.

Now reading reports that the police "armed to the teeth" have chased the miners off the motorway, the miners have run into a village Bembibre, the police are attacking them and firing some kind of projectile at them and have done something so their mobiles don't work.

fingers malone
Jul 18 2012 23:10

Copiamos aquí algunos tuits acerca de lo que está pasando en Bembibre:

"Esto suena como la guerra. Riadas de mineros huyen d los antidisturbios en la recta de #sanromandebembibre es la guerra. #19J"

La que se está liando en #sanromandebembibre los mineros corren hacia #Bembibre. Se cortan los móviles continuamente"

Los antidisturbios han entrado a #SanRomándeBembibre y reprimen a los mineros. Un poquito antes, y celebran el 18 de julio. #FASCISTAS

"This sounds like a war. Floods of miners running from the riot police in Bembibre."

"It's kicking off in San Roman de Bembibre. They keep cutting off the mobiles."

"The riot police have entered San Roman de Bembibre and are attacking the miners. A bit earlier and they could have celebrated 18th of July. FASCISTS"