Several Spanish coal mining regions have been brought to a halt with a strike by miners, many of whom have not been paid for more than two months.
The stoppage is the first of two planned strikes which are part of a wider campaign to save jobs in the loss-making industry.
Two hundred miners have set off on what they are calling ‘The Black March’ – a trek from Villablino to Leon – to highlight the threat posed to their industry.
Their employers say they simply do not have the money for wages.
The miners are also angry at EU plans to withdraw subsidies for Spanish coal, and want the European Commission to approve a government plan that would oblige power companies to burn domestically mined fuel, and not cheaper imports.
Their nine-day march is due to end on September 29th coinciding with a nationwide general strike called to protest at changes in employment laws introduced by the socialist government in Madrid.
Six trade-unionists are on hunger-strike outside the Industry Ministry in the Spanish capital and two collieries have miners staging sit-ins, more than 500 metres underground.
At one near Guardo in northern Spain, they been sticking it out since the beginning of the month despite complaining of the cold and missing their families.
Spanish miners strike for pay and job security