The indefinite miners' strike which began officially last week has degenerated into brawls with riot police on several occasions... ...after miners started out peacefully occupying mines in Asturias, Castilla-Leon, Castilla-La Mancha, Aragon and Andalucia.
There had been scattered incidents in mines across the country for several weeks until the two main unions, the UGT (General Workers Union) and the CC.OO (Workers Commissions) called the indefinite strike last Friday to protest against cuts in government aid of 63 per cent to the sector.
Most of the mines are privately owned and have been fighting a losing battle with cheaper imported coal for years. The owners say it is the high cost of each worker that makes the mines less competitive, while the miners accuse them of wanting to get out of an industry that does not yield the high profits they want. The unions warned that if the government does not step in the mines will close down, putting thousands out of work. Last Friday the miners barricaded the A-66 motorway in Vega del Reay, near Oviedo, Asturias province.
The seven unions have called for nationwide protests starting today, Wednesday, June 9th, at 6 pm, to be followed by similar protests every Tuesday and Thursday at the same time and at 12 noon on Saturdays.
Asturian coal miners are famous for their militancy, a reputation they gained in October 1934 when they occupied several towns in the province in the hope of sparking a national rebellion to bring down the right-wing Republican government.
An army headed by Generals Eduardo López Ochoa and Francisco Franco finally put down the uprising in which some 1,500 miners were killed and between 30,000 and 40,000 taken prisoner.
Another 1,500 non-miners, including women and children were killed by Franco's Moroccan troops.