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Miners light up Madrid and show the way to struggle!
John Hird, CWI Spain
Thousands of coal miners arrived in Madrid on 10 July, completing another march on the capital as part of the struggle to defend their jobs.
They were greeted by thousands of workers and youth from Madrid who poured onto the streets to express their solidarity. Firefighters escorted the miners through Madrid, stripping off in front of the parliament to show their solidarity!
On the same day that the miners arrived, president Rajoy and the right-wing PP government announced a revised vicious cuts budget.
The miners of Asturias and other regions brought the class struggle to Rajoy's door and cut short his Euro Cup feel-good factor. Indeed, David Villa, Barcelona and Spanish footballer is tweeting his support for the miners and their struggle.
The arrival of the miners in Madrid has been like a catharsis for other groups of workers under attack, like firefighters, teachers and local government workers.
Even the mainstream newspaper El Pais admits that the idea of "lucha obrera" (workers' struggle) is taking hold. But generally the Spanish media continues to play a lamentable role.
The government press publishes lies and misinformation about the miners. According to ABC, the miners have salaries of €2,100 a month and the mines are so safe that women miners can go to work in high heels! They have also wasted the millions in subsidies they have received 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 what is still a very dangerous job. The police get about €1,900. All industry is 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 a €100 billion bailout - where is that money now?
The subsidies paid to the mining industry have been misspent 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.
As far as violence is concerned, what is more violent than the destruction of 8,000 direct mining jobs, another 30,000 indirectly and whole communities destroyed?
The miners are precisely being singled out for what they represent, including their history and tradition, as many Spanish workers instinctively understand.
Rajoy's only response to the demands of the miners has been to mobilise national police and the civil guard which is a provocation to the mining communities.
The politicians are living in denial. Esperanza Aguirre, the president of Madrid, denied the miners' march was large!
As the miners were demonstrating, Rajoy announced an increase in 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. But there are five million on the dole!
The battle lines are now clearer. The government is acting exclusively for big business.
Their only policy is to make the poor and working class pay for the capitalist crisis. But the Spanish miners have shone a light and shown the whole of the working class the way to struggle.
See www.socialistworld.net for the full version of this article
In The Socialist 25 July 2012:
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