Spanish miners refuse to budge from under ground

7th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Despite living half a kilometre (500 yards) underground with no heating and 80 percent humidity, 50 Spanish coal miners said Tuesday they will not budge until they are paid.

"We don't care about our health. What matters is that the message goes directly to the Spanish government," said Manuel Linares Grela, leader of the miners in Guardo, northern Spain.

"The government still has not said anything," he told an AFP photographer who descended into the mine.

Aged 19 to 44, they have refused since Thursday to rise to ground level after receiving no pay for August from mining company Union Minera del Norte (Uminsa).

The company says it has no cash because domestic power companies are shunning Spanish coal for cheaper imports.

Families have sent them blankets to keep warm in the cool temperatures and mattresses, which the miners placed on trolleys and tables to keep them off the moist floors.

A doctor is on hand in case of any sign of health problems.

The miners fear the company may not be able to pay them for September, and could even close the mine.

"The only thing a miner knows is mining," said Linares de Grela.

The miners are calling for a guaranteed level of coal purchases so as to ensure that Spanish coal-fired power stations buy domestic coal rather than imports.

© 2010 AFP

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