Striking workers refuse to leave underground mine

Seven striking Spanish workers are refusing to leave their underground mine in protest at their government's decision to slash mining subsidies.

It comes amid massive protests from miners which saw rioting on the streets and running battles with police.

According to AFP the miners have already spent more than 20 days underground at the mine near Santa Cruz del Sil.

"We will stay here until we have a solution. We are determined to keep fighting," one of the protesting miners said.

These miners are reportedly not the only ones staging underground sit-ins, with two other mines holding similar protests.

Nationwide strikes by coal miners have seen violent riots erupt after unions opposed reductions in coal subsidies from €300 million to €110 million, in an attempt to curb national spending and fight the growing debt in the country.

Around 8000 protestors from 40 mines set up burning barricades and launched rockets at the police, the Daily Mail reports.

Police were forced to fire tear gas at the striking mines to break up the protests.

For those protesting underground they say the hardest part is ventilation, with the dust already forcing one miner out due to bronchitis.

"Time passes by very slowly. What you miss the most is the sun and fresh air. And of course your family," one miner told AFP.

While they do get exercise walking around the tunnels, the miners have way to watch movies or listen to music, only having a deck of cards to pass the time.

"This is a sit-in. We don't want people to think we are on vacation," they stated.

While Australia's coal mining industry is world leading and growing exponentially, those in Europe, and especially Spain, have been shrinking.

Anger at the government's cuts to the mining subsidies are only likely to increase following the announcement this weekend of a financial bail out for Spain's banking sector by the rest of the Europe.

 

Image: AFP/ Cesar Manso

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