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Spanish coal miners strike over unpaid wages and aid

Steel News - Published on Sat, 25 Sep 2010

Reuters reported that Spanish miners began the first of two planned 48 hour strikes recently to demand unpaid wages and EU approval of a plan to let Spain favor domestic coal over imports as part of aid for the loss-making industry.

A spokesman for Spain biggest union grouping, Comisiones Obreras said all of the country approximately 7,400 coal miners had heeded the strike call and that many were continuing protests that had been under way for weeks.

About one-third of the miners say they have not been paid for several weeks, and protest has simmered with miners blocking roads and holding underground sit-ins in mines.

Coal producers group Carbunion declined to comment on the strike but chairman Mr Victorino Alonso said earlier this month that firms could not afford to pay miners because they had not sold any coal since February.

Mr Miguel Sebastian Industry Minister told Spain lower chamber of parliament that \"In the summer we have brought forward all subsidies so that mining firms can pay payrolls.\"

The strike was called last week after talks broke down between the ministry and unions. A second strike is set for September 29th to 30th and will coincide with a nationwide general strike, part of a wave of unrest expected in Europe this autumn.

In February, the government passed a decree that will require utilities to burn domestic rather than imported coal which is usually cheaper but the plan has yet to be approved by the European Union executive Commission.

Six miners who have been occupying the Industry Ministry began a hunger strike at midnight after hundreds of others began marches in the north and northwest of Spain on Tuesday to demand a future for coal mining.

Comisiones statement said that \"The march may be prolonged to Madrid in case the European Commission does not give the green light on Wednesday September 29th to the government decree.\"

Mr Sebastian told a Senate panel on Tuesday he was confident the decree would receive backing from a meeting of EU commissioners set for September 29th.

Commission documents have shown there are sharp divisions within the executive over Spain arguments, one of which is that EU laws allow members to support domestic energy sources.

(Sourced from Reuters)

Posted By : admin on Sat, 25 Sep 2010
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