Social tension has again emerged in the Jiu Valley, the largest coal-mining region in Romania.
The employees of the Lupeni mine refuse
to go into the mines. Radio Romania's correspondent in the Jiu Valley says the
roots of the protest lie in the unprecedented crisis the Hunedoara Energy
Complex has been going through. Not even basic stuff needed in the underground
can be purchased anymore, because of the difficult financial problems facing
the complex. Miners fear they might lose their jobs and would like to receive a
concrete program regarding either the
continuation of their mining activities or the closing down of the mines.
"We have been lied to all the time, either about insolvency or
about getting awards, and this can no longer continue. We have been humiliated
to an incredible extent. If the activity can't continue, we are going home. We
are neither the first nor the last to lose their jobs. Let's establish once for
all what should be done, but we should be all aware of what's going on. "
call for the resignation of the current management, whom they blame for
incompetence. They are particularly discontent with the conduct of the deputy
director Petru Nica, a
former trade union leader until the autumn of 2016, whom they accuse of trying
to intimidate the miners and of threatening them with lay offs if they do not
resume their activity. The protests staged by the trade unions come shortly
after the European Commission approved the allotment of approximately 100
million Euro by the Romanian state for the closing down of the Lupeni mine and of another loss making
coal mine in the Jiu Valley, Lonea.
More than half of the money will be spent on workers, who will receive
severance payment and will benefit from professional reconversion programs, as
well as on a number of activities needed in the underground, to rehabilitate
the region and to return the land to agriculture. This is only an episode in
the long agony of the Romanian mining industry. Enjoying a privileged status
during the communist dictatorship, for both pragmatic and ideological reasons,
the mining industry assures the vitality of the energy-consuming economy. A
polluting and loss making sector, the mining industry started to lose ground in
the mid 1990's, when the first mines were closed down.