The Spanish miners’ strike against a cut in the subsidy to the industry is now in its tenth week. Support in Spain and internationally is growing all the time.
When the miners’ march (the “Black March” or “Marcha Negra”) from the coalmining regions to Madrid reached the capital on 19 July they were greeted by thousands of supporters and well-wishers in a clear demonstration that their strike is now seen as the spearhead against the government’s austerity policies.
In a reference to Spain’s all-conquering national football team sections of the crowd were heard chanting “This is our national team!” as the miners marched past.
Hardly a day goes by now without one section of workers or another taking some kind of action and street clashes in Madrid are now almost commonplace.
The government must surely be rattled by this continuing unrest as more and more Spanish workers follow the lead of the miners, even police and soldiers have been seen on demonstrations; with unemployment at almost 25% the whole country seems to be on a knife edge.
A general strike has been called for, while in the main mining regions of Asturias and Castile and León, the miners continue to pursue their militant and extremely effective tactics of barricading motorways.
The local police are not used by the authorities who instead deploy the hated Guarda Civil (a kind of militarised police force). But despite the use of tear gas and rubber bullets the miners remain defiant and usually have the upper hand in any clashes.
The Guarda Civil are now attacking miners’ villages, breaking into miners’ houses and generally terrorising the inhabitants of these often small and isolated communities.
Money is now flowing into the coffers of the strike fund and this will need to continue as autumn and then winter approaches. All indications are that this will be a long strike.
In the UK, the Durham Miners’ Association and the NUM have both donated £5,000 to the strikers and the PCS has contributed £2,000. The Spanish Miners’ Solidarity Committee (the only organisation in UK recognised by both the two main Spanish unions — the Comisiones Obreras, CCOO and the Union General de Trajabadores, UGT) — has been busy collecting money and organising support.
In a number of areas support groups have been set up, street collections are planned in various cities and it is hoped to bring over some striking miners to speak at meetings around the UK.
Posters, leaflets and T-shirts have been produced and, so far, in just over two weeks, £19,000 has been collected — a magnificent response but one that needs to be maintained.
Try to think of what you can do to help the Spanish miners who, it must never be forgotten, were generous in the extreme in their support for the British miners in 1984-5.
Can you set up a local support group, raise the issue at your trade union or Labour Party meeting, leaflet meetings and rallies, organise a street collection and/or a public meeting? If you need any help please contact the Spanish Miners’ Solidarity Committee who will be happy to provide posters, leaflets and speakers etc.
• The SMSC can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
• The SMSC blog is here
• Our facebook site is:
“Solidarity with the Spanish miners”
•The SMSC bank account details are:
Sort code: 08 92 99
Account number: 65568150
• Or, you can send a cheque to the SMCS treasurer, John Cunningham at 136 Regent Court, Bradfield Road, Sheffield S6 2BW, South Yorkshire. If you send a cheque please include an address so that we can acknowledge your donation or send you a receipt if you wish.
Whatever you choose to do, let the SMSC know and we will do all we can to help you.