Polish Coal Miners Strike over Planned Job Cuts
Strikes continued in Poland Wednesday as miners protested government plans to close four state-owned coal mines.
The center-right coalition government led by the Citizen’s Platform, with newly-elected Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, is attempting a radical shakeup of the mining industry, which it says is losing money in an ailing market.
The standoff involving miners in 12 sites undertaking underground occupations, the hunger strikes, and railway blocks extended after negotiations between the government and strikers broke down Monday.
The head of the trade union confederation Solidarnosc, Piotr Duda, has said that if an agreement is not met with the trade unionists by Tuesday the miners would be joined on strike by workers from the railways and energy sector.
“We will give the government one more chance, although we cannot wait long. This is a matter concerning all workers. Today it is miners, tomorrow railway workers and the next day it will be energy sector workers,” he said.
The planned closures will lose 5,000 jobs and cost the government US$636 million.
Around 90 percent of Poland’s energy generation is made up by coal, although increasingly this is being bought cheaply from Russia.
State-owned Kompania Weglowa, the largest hard coal mine in Europe with 50,000 workers, lost US$194 million in 2013.