POLAND’S COAL INDUSTRY FINALLY BURNS OUT – by Maria Wilczek (Balkan Insight – October 12, 2020)

Covering politics, society and business in Southern and Eastern Europe

Polish miners steadfastly blocked the overhaul of the coal industry for decades, but further delay has become too costly. BIRN reports the backstory of a landmark deal with the unions that signals the last days of the industry, and looks at what the future holds for these communities.

The sandwiches were stacked, the posters were up. The mining unions in the Silesian town of Ruda Slaska had been preparing for the big protest for days.

Ruda Slaska in southern Poland is home to 130,000 people and three coal mines slated for swift shutdown. Around the city posters called on townsfolk to protest against the closures: “Save Silesia! The government and European Union’s program will annihilate Silesia!”

The prime minister had sent a delegation to negotiate a timeline for reforms. By Friday, September 25, talks had already been dragging on for three days. To turn up the pressure, hundreds of miners sealed themselves off underground in protest. Proud displays of their makeshift bedding and tinned-food menus spread through social media.

At the headquarters of the Sierpien 80 mining union that coordinated the protest, the phone was ringing off the hook that morning. Its boss, Boguslaw Zietek, sat at the shiny atramentous desk in his plain-walled office in Katowice.

“This is boorishness and contempt for the people of Silesia. The prime minister should be here himself to negotiate their fate,” he winced. “Five million people live here. We’re talking about the total destruction of an industry employing hundreds of thousands of people.”

For the rest of this article: https://balkaninsight.com/2020/10/12/polands-coal-industry-finally-burns-out/

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