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

Jun 10 2012 09:20


  • 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


fingers malone
Jun 12 2012 22:48

fingers malone
Jun 12 2012 22:52

fingers malone
Jun 13 2012 00:04

Mira, mira cómo vengo yo.
Traigo la camisa roja, traigo la camisa roja,
De sangre d'un compañeru, mira, mira Maruxina, mira,
Mira cómo vengo yo.

fingers malone
Jun 13 2012 00:17

What's up with the photos? Some of them are disappearing.

Juan Conatz
Jun 13 2012 02:23

Which ones? The original link could have disapeared, but also if you have Adblock or various Facebook blocks that might have something to do with it.

fingers malone
Jun 13 2012 07:25

They've come back now!

fingers malone
Jun 13 2012 07:48

The miners say they have received support from miners in the UK and Poland, I think some NUM delegation is going over from here at the weekend.

fingers malone
Jun 13 2012 20:33

Nine miners arrested today charged with public order offences and with firing bolts and ball bearings at the police with catapults.

The HQ of the PP government party in Oviedo and various PP locals around Asturias were attacked last night. Two had black paint thrown all over the windows, some were bombarded with eggs and two suffered broken windows. In one a sack of coal was found afterwards on the premises.

fingers malone
Jun 13 2012 20:47

Some motorways are being blocked with lorries across all the lanes.
Apparently there are strikes by transport workers and teachers and in the shipyards in Asturias, not sure if these are still going on, trying to find more info.

fingers malone
Jun 13 2012 21:01

"love in times of struggle"

fingers malone
Jun 13 2012 22:11

the night time march in Leon again

Jun 13 2012 22:13

Where is that last photo from?

fingers malone
Jun 13 2012 22:27

"the night time march in Leon again" was a cryptic clue

Ok sorry for cheap sarcasm. Leon is north east Spain. It is basically south of Gijon. The most militant miners mobilisations are mainly in Asturias but some are in Leon. There might be a few in Aragon, not too sure about that.

Jun 13 2012 22:25

are you sure the photo of the kiss is from Asturias?. I think is a old one from piqueteros.

edit: it is from Chile 2011

The day before yesterday the HQ of left-wing PSOE, which heads Asturias regional goverment, in Mieres was attacked with molotov coktails, and the personal car of SOMA-UGT leader Villa (which is the classical union leader "vendeobreros" = worker seller) was damaged in Tuilla.

By the way, the confrontations with the police have a significative "folkorical" and spectacular component: you know, people not in the coal-mining area thinks "miners are miners and do this kind of things". This is in no way going out of the control of the mainstream trade-unions (CCOO_UGT) which respect and encourage these methods of struggle and pressure when the miners (or shipyard workers) use them but denounce and criminalize if any other worker (not to talk not workers) use them. Of course, by the moment, the strike is completeley under the control of main unions leadership.

In my opinion, this is probably more the last resort of a dying worker composition than an upsurge of class struggle in Spain. Maybe the miners strike encourages some other ongoing worker struggles in the country (mainly the so-called "green tide" in education) but I don't see workers in Madrid setting tyres in fire in a near future. I hope I'm wrong.

Finally, I think that the crucial discussion is not in the means but in the objectives of the struggle. Sorry, but I have no time to write more about this. Maybe other day.

fingers malone
Jun 13 2012 22:28

Ok fair enough about the photo, it was on twitter saying it was from Asturias

Jun 13 2012 22:40

Yes, I saw it after I made the comment. It is not the first time people use photos from Chile. It the Valencia Spring (#primaveravalenciana) was the same.

Jun 13 2012 23:45
fingers malone wrote:
"the night time march in Leon again" was a cryptic clue

Ok sorry for cheap sarcasm. Leon is north east Spain. It is basically south of Gijon. The most militant miners mobilisations are mainly in Asturias but some are in Leon.

Also, Durruti was from Leon.

Jun 14 2012 09:40

These photographs are beautiful!

Solidarity from ex-miners.

Although many British newspapers have quite rightly given extensive coverage to the financial crisis in Spain (Spanish bailout deal emerges, 9 June), there appears to be an almost total blackout of news about the response of the workers' movement in Spain to the austerity measures being pursued by the government. Most significantly, any reader of the British press could be excused for being unaware of the indefinite strike by Spanish coalminers that began on 31 May and is already escalating to the point of near civil war in some areas of Asturias and León. The announcement by the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy of drastic cuts in subsidies to the mining industry, which will threaten the livelihoods of around 8,000 miners and endanger another 30,000 jobs, is being met by miners and their communities with a determined and united resistance. The response of the government is classically neoliberal and has no doubt brought tears of joy to Christine Lagarde and the other free-market warriors of the IMF. For those of us in the UK who remember the miners' strike of 1984-85, it is also depressingly predictable, with the Guardia Civil out on the streets in force firing teargas and rubber bullets at miners and their supporters. British miners and those who supported the NUM owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Spanish trade unions and particularly the miners for their solidarity and financial support during 1984-85. It is now time to stand with them.

John Cuningham Acting secretary, Spanish Miners' Solidarity Committee, and ex-miner, Dinnington Colliery, South Yorkshire, Carrie Hedderwick Sheffield Women Against Pit Closures, Ian Isaac Executive committee, South Wales NUM, 1982-87, and ex-miner, St John's Colliery, Steve Brunt Ex-miner, Arkwright Colliery, Doncaster

Jun 14 2012 10:32
Joseph Kay wrote:
more rocket porn

... and a new sub-genre is born

Jun 14 2012 12:21

'If our children go hungry, yours will shed blood'.

Joseph Kay
Jun 14 2012 18:34

Jun 14 2012 18:49
grupo_ruptura wrote:
are you sure the photo of the kiss is from Asturias?. I think is a old one from piqueteros.

edit: it is from Chile 2011

yeah, thanks for that - fingers that was the photo I was asking about, but my post was double posted with your second photo. I asked because it looked very different from all the other photos (I mean, it's still a great photo)

I would also like to thank ruptura for her/his very informative comments on Spain recently

Jun 15 2012 00:15
Jun 15 2012 09:00
Joseph Kay wrote:

I like it, but did they not miss an obvious one with 'Coal of Duty'?

Jun 15 2012 19:17

thanks grupo_ruptura for the insights. i've had enough of this riot porn knowing nothing what is really going on... not that i am much wiser now hehe, but at least something.

Between Your Teeth
Jun 15 2012 19:31

thought i'd post this up for the info contained within. it's a letter sent from a CCOO official in response to a solidarity message from my local trades council. as such i make no claims to the politics but it does give some useful background, namely that the unions had "reluctantly" signed off on "progressive cuts" to the subsidies already as part of an EU directive. but now the government is using austerity to bring them in earlier.

What is happening in Asturias and Leon is kind of huge. It seems there were going to be cuts in subsidy to coal in a progressive way until 2018 but with the crisis our Government decided to do it faster and there has been huge cuts for this year. So the miners went to strike, I think they have been on strike for... I'm not sure but I would say two weeks. The strike is general so all miners are on strike.

Here you can find more info, it's in spanish but you can read it wink and you have photos and videos:

You told me you want to send a letter or money... I will ask in CCOO how you can do it ok? Thank you very much for your solidarity smile Working class is the best!!!!

The gist of the report in the link from "Publico" is that...

1. The all-out indefinite strike by miners is going strong in Asturias and Leon (northern Spain). The strikers have blocked many main roads in the region with felled trees, burning tyres and trucks across carriageways. There have been clashes with the Guardia Civil (the more "robust"/aggressive police) who have been running around trying to clear routes. The unions will continue with the strike until the government responds with serious economic proposals to deal with the problem.

2. The unions, CCOO/SOMA-UGT/Uminsa are fighting the decision by the Conservative Govt to slash aid to the coal industry (sounds familiar). The original plan (agreed reluctantly with the unions) was to co-operate with an EU directive to end subsidies to coal industry in member states by 2018. The Spanish Tories have speeded this process dramatically claiming that the economic crisis means they can't afford to maintain subsidies until 2018. The unions claim there are other motives (sounds familiar, again) and that the govt. has a Thatcherite agenda.The unions point to the bail-outs given to Spanish banks (sounds familiar, again) and also to the huge impact the cuts will have in the region, particularly in this difficult economic context. There was to be a night time demonstration in Leon at 10pm with miners wearing helmets with lights and carrying miners lamps. The unions are encouraging all people in the region to support this demonstration as the industry genmerates a lot of good jobs and wealth in the area.

3. The regional govt PSOE (Labour) says it has reluctantly accepted pit closures in 2018 but cannot accept closures in 2012 .

also here's some more riot porn, world's most ineffective tear gassing, take that hillside.

edit: bah, can't make it work

Jun 18 2012 10:55

I left you two texts from Asturias. Soory, I haven't time to translate it to english.

The first one is a text from a anti-state communist group with some members in Asturias. It is called "Let's break the isolation of the miner's struggle". You can read, in Spanish, here

The second one is a Letter form a retired miner explaining the situation:

He trabajado 25 años en la mina, bajé a un pozo cuando tenía 18 años y me gustaría deciros que me asombran muchos comentarios que leo sobre la minería y las prejubilaciones, en éste grupo y en otros.Os doy mi parecer, para ver si puedo disipar varias dudas que veo que hay sobre éste sector.

1º La lucha que están llevando los compañeros en éstos momentos, no es para pedir dinero, sino para que se respete el acuerdo firmado el año pasado entre el Ministerio de Industria y los sindicatos mineros, la firma de éste acuerdo tenía unas ayudas asignadas hasta el año 2018.
Éste dinero lo dió La Comunidad Europea y no los Gobiernos Españoles, con ésto quiero decir que no lo puso ningún español para ayudarnos como piensa mucha de la gente que tanto nos critica.
En cuanto a éste dinero lo que yo me pregunto, como casi todas las familias mineras, es donde está la parte de los Fondos Mineros que supuestamente iría destinada a la creación de industrias alternativas al carbón en las cuencas mineras, después del cierre de las minas.Pues bien, cómo en muchos otros sectores,el dinero lo manejaron los políticos y los sindicatos. Con parte de éste dinero, os podría decir, por ejemplo, que el Señor Gabino de Lorenzo ( ex-alcalde de Oviedo) pagó las farolas de su ciudad, el nuevo Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos y otras muchas obras. La ex-alcaldesa de Gijón ( la Señora Felgeroso) lo invirtió en la Universidad Laboral y cómo el primero, también en otras obras.
En el Valle de Turón,perteneciente a la Cuenca del Caudal, donde yo vivo, con más de 600 muertos ( que sepamos, pues en la guerra civil se quemaron los archivos anteriores ) en las minas desde el año 1889 hasta el 2006 cuando se cerraron, hicieron un polideportivo que por cierto, se inauguró sin aseos y así siguen, una senda para pasear y poco mas.Todo nuestro entorno esta lleno de escombreras, que poco a poco se están intentando recuperar.Pero de reindustrialización, que es lo crea los puestos de trabajo estables para que siga habiendo vida, casi nada.

2º Veo con asombro que a mucha gente le parece mal ésta ayuda, no quisiera escribir ésto, pero hay ayudas a otros sectores como la ganadería, el campo, la pesca y muchas más que no voy a mencionar, yo personalmente me alegro, prefiero que las ayudas sean para los trabajadores que para los chorizos que nos roban todos los días.

3º Después de acabar la guerra civil en este país, parece que muchos de vosotros no sabéis que los mineros españoles estuvieron trabajando una hora gratis, al día y durante muchisimo tiempo, para levantar lo que el franquismo destruyó, cuando en nuestras casas no teníamos ni para comer.

4º En el año 1962 los mineros empezaron una huelga que se extendió por toda España, donde se consiguieron muchos de los derechos que tenemos todos los españoles hoy en día y que ahora están tratando de arrebatarnos. En ésta huelga hubo muchos palos, presos, hambre y destierros hacia otras provincias de España separándolos de sus familias y que empezaron a regresar en el año 1980.

5º Sobre las prejubilaciones, es mentira que los mineros se prejubilen con 40 años y habláis de euros con si fuese que nos tocó la primitiva, la realidad es otra, dentro de de las mensualidades que cobran los prejubilados está incluida la parte de sus pagas extraordinarias y van en función de las categorías laborales,no cobra lo mismo un picador,que un barrenista ó que un ayudante de barrenista etc., su cotización es al 50%, quiero decir con ésto que nosotros cada dos años, cotizamos a La Seguridad Social un año mas, por ejemplo yo que trabaje 25 años, he cotizado a La Seguridad Social 37 años y medio,¿ alguno de vosotros creéis que llegareis a pagar lo que nosotros aportamos a dicha Seguridad Social?.

6º.El carbón que traen de fuera según vosotros es más barato que el autóctono, lo pongo en duda pero voy a pensar que es verdad, ¿qué queréis vernos siendo unos esclavos como en éstos países? yo no quiero que ningún trabajador del mundo lo sea.
Esto que voy a escribir es un hecho real, he trabajado con compañeros Checos y Polacos, cuando llegaron a Asturias y empezaron a comprar en los comercios, estaban acojonados porque podían comprar la cantidad que quisieran y en sus países no podían hacerlo. La primera Navidad que pasaron con nosotros traían en cada mano una tableta de turrón.. nosotros les preguntábamos que por qué hacían eso y nos decían que en su país, no se podían permitir ni comprarlo ya que su salario solo llegaba para mal comer. Con ésto quiero decir que sino defendemos nuestros derechos nos pasará lo mismo.

7º.Sobre los cortes de carretera contestaré a todos esos que tanto protestan porque los mineros les impiden acudir al trabajo o a estudiar y dicen que cuando tengan problemas en su empresa, irán a los centros de trabajo de otros a “fastidiar”. Os diré que siempre que algunos compañeros de otros sectores nos pidieron ayuda para defender sus puestos de trabajo, hemos parado 24 horas, apoyando aquí y fuera de aquí.
Cuando las huelgas de los mineros Ingleses, paramos de trabajar y se hizo una colecta para mandarles dinero para que pudieran alimentar a sus familias. ¿alguno duda que no vamos a unirnos a cualquier sector afectado?.Pero parece que ahora cuesta trabajo hasta pedir ayuda a los demás.Apoyarnos unos a otros es fundamental, pero lo que hacemos sin embargo es lo contrario y así los de arriba siempre jugaran con ventaja.
Si todos los trabajadores españoles estuviesen tan unidos como los mineros, los gobernantes de este país se lo pensarían mucho antes de hacernos recortes como los están haciendo, os lo puedo asegurar. Reflexionar sobre quien os impide ir a trabajar o a clase, con los despidos legales de hoy en día y los recortes en educación, los que os lo están impidiendo son nuestros políticos.
También me gustaría decirles a los que opinan que deberíamos ir a quejarnos a Madrid a las puertas del Ministerio y que “a los demás les dejemos tranquilos”, que sí que hemos ido, pero por la censura mediática que estamos teniendo puede ser que no se esté informando con transparencia.

Creo firmemente que el trabajador que defiende sus derechos no es un terrorista como nos llaman ahora por luchar por el bienestar de nuestras familias.

Os invito a todos a que salgáis de vuestras casas y defendáis lo vuestro. Quedándoos en casa, estáis permitiendo que poco a poco consigan meteros el hambre en vuestras vidas.
Quieren que nuestros hijos y los vuestros sean analfabetos como nosotros, que vimos las paredes de la escuela más por fuera que por dentro, un pueblo analfabeto es más fácil de dominar.
Manteneros informados, contrastar todo lo que veáis por la televisión, ahora tenéis Internet, móviles, para poder estar en contacto permanente, organizaros, de la forma que queráis, pacíficamente o directamente en las barricadas, pero organizaros!Marcar objetivos a conseguir en un plazo corto de tiempo, el gobierno va muy rápido cuando es su favor y lo sabéis.
Quitar la palabra “miedo” ó la frase “total para lo que va a servir” de vuestras mentes y tomar el control de vuestro futuro.

Si alguien no entiende algo de lo que escribí o me quiere hacer alguna pregunta más concreta, si puedo, se la contestare con mucho gusto.

Muchísimas gracias a todos y todas los que nos apoyáis desde otras provincias y desde otros países.

Un saludo.

Juan José Fernández. Asturias.

Jun 15 2012 21:49

A Photo that appeared in the Guardian's '24-Hours in Pictures' with the caption:

'Oviedo, Spain: striking coalminers behind their shields as they defend their position from riot police near the El Soton mine.'

fingers malone
Jun 16 2012 00:43

"We have been using lengths of pipe to aim sky rockets, slings, golf ball launchers and even a home-made device to fire potatoes to keep the police away," veteran miner Gerardo Cienfuegos, 39, told the Associated Press news agency.

Jun 18 2012 11:00

Today, the main Unions CCOO and UGT (and the rest of small unions in Asturias) have called a general strike in the coal-mining areas of Asturias, Leon, Aragón and Palencia. For the time being it seems it is being a complete success. Besides, today is the 18th day of indefinite strike in the mining-sector in Spain.