Monthly Archives: July 2012

Miners light up Madrid and show workers the way to struggle!

The front cover of the Spanish satirical magazine EL JUEVES  has President Mariano Rajoy giving a massive wet sloppy kiss to goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Replaying the famous kiss Iker planted on his interviewer/girlfriend when Spain won the World Cup two years ago. Rajoy has tried to milk everything he can from Spain’s recent Euro Cup win, attending the matches and being pictured next to the Prince of Asturias celebrating. Before the tournament he even appealed to the coach Vincente Del Bosque to ‘win the cup for Spain to help us forget the crisis.’ Del Bosque said his team would do their best but victory would not solve the socio-economic problems of the country. Wise man and great coach Del Bosque is!

It is precisely the miners of Asturias and other regions who have brought the class struggle to Rajoy’s door and cut short his ‘Euro Cup’ feelgood factor. Indeed David Villa, Barcelona and Spain (football) striker is tweeting his support for the miners and their struggle. As the miners marched past the President’s Palace, Madrid workers chanted: “Esta es nuestra selección” (This is our selection/team.) A miner commented that he had expected a great welcome in Madrid but with the incredible reception he truly felt like ‘La selección.”


The arrival of the miners in Madrid has been like a catharsis for other groups of workers under attack like fire fighters, teachers and local government workers. “Miners, you are the dog’s bollocks! Our pride!” The shouts of encouragement by these workers show that this miner’s movement is acting as a catalyst in Spain. Even El Pais admits that the idea of “lucha obrera” (worker’s struggle) is taking hold.

The Spanish media continues to play a lamentable role. Posters on social media complained that as thousands of workers demonstrated in Madrid the TV served up it’s usual turgid menu of Sport, US films & series and scandalous gossip shows.

Meanwhile the government press publishes lies and misinformation about the miners. According to ABC the mines are so safe that female miners can go to work in high heels and that miners have salaries of €2,100! They have also wasted the millions in subsidies and of course the old chestnut, the miners are violent.

In fact miners receive an average salary of between €1,000 and €1,500 a month for a still very dangerous job. Police get about €1,900.

Almost all industries are subsidised in Spain including transport and agriculture. Why single out the miners whose industry has only received about 1% of the total paid out in subsidies? Spanish banks recently got €100,000 million – where is that money now? The subsidies paid to the mining industry have been mis-spent by the private mining companies and local and regional governments. They should have been investing in improved infrastructure and job creation. No-one can really account for where the money has gone though undoubtedly some of it has been syphoned off corruptly.

The miners are precisely being singled out for what the represent, their preparedness to struggle and their history and tradition as many workers instinctively understand.

As far as the violence goes what is more violent than the destruction of 8,000 direct mining jobs and another 30,000 indirectly if the communities are destroyed?


Rajoy’s only response to the legitimate demands of the miners has been to mobilise National Police and Civil Guard which is a provocation to the mining communities. Indeed miners and their families have already suffered brutal repression. In Ciñera in León rubber bullets have been used by police and school playgrounds tear gassed.

Women miners also marched from Asturias to Madrid. Miners’ wives have also started to get organised.

Thousands took part in the massive demonstration outside the Ministry of Industry. Miners, their families and all sectors of workers in Madrid including the ‘Green Tide’ of Madrid education workers.

The demonstrations passed off mainly peacefully despite a provocative show of strength by the police. Riot police provoked the miners when they filmed the miners’ columns as they reached the Ministry of Industry and pitched battles took place.. The PP HQ was protected by 11 Police armed vehicles.


Meanwhile the politicians are living in denial. Esperanza Aguirre, the President of Madrid denied the miner’s march was large! Rajoy has not said anything about the miners. In Los Cortes only the IU leader reflected a little of the anger in the country, saying that the budget measures were like ‘throwing petrol onto the streets of Spain.’

As the miners were demonstrating Rajoy announced an increase in IVA/VAT of 3% and a reduction in unemployment pay to 50% of what unemployed workers have paid into the social security system. Rajoy said this should ‘encourage’ the unemployed to find work! Some hope with 5 million on the dole. The overall cuts are a further €65,000 million on top of previous cuts. The pro-Big Business government is also proposing to reduce the number of full time union officials in an attempt to make it more difficult for unions to defend workers.

The battle lines are now clearer. The government is acting exclusively for Big Business and everyone knows it. Their only policy is to make the poor and working class pay for the capitalist crisis.

Yesterday many workers were angry at this prospect but did not have the confidence or really know the way to fight back. But that was yesterday, today the Spanish miners have shone a light and shown the whole of the working class the way to struggle.

John Hird – Euskadi – July 11 de 2012