Mining in Romania: kept going until it collapses?
Roughly 100 miners of the Lupeni mine in Romania's Jiu Valley (Valea Jiului) are staging a strike underground because they haven't been paid in three months. Their employer Hunedoara S.A., ultimately controlled by the state, has been insolvent for 14 months. The government has now promised to pay the wages and social welfare contributions. The media lambasts Romania for condemning the mining region to a future without hope.
Money alone is not a solution
Adevărul criticises that governments have put off tackling the problem for decades:
“For 30 years, the companies in the coal industry have been milked and not reformed because people knew that the miners' wages would be paid even if the companies were in the red. For social reasons, and naturally also for political ones. The basic problem was not solved; it was much easier for all the governments to pay money - without making this conditional on companies carrying out reforms or improving working conditions and miners' lives. ... This area must certainly see reforms. ... Otherwise we will not have an energy industry we can rely on, and we will never improve the miners' situation.”
Reduced to a poorhouse
Romania must not make the miners pay the price for its sluggish reform of the energy industry, Mediafax admonishes:
“More and more mines have been closed in the past six years. 'Retraining workers' is a fiasco because nobody has created an alternative to mining - indeed, nobody has even reflected on one. ... Just two or three decades ago, the area was prosperous, but today it is poor. Stop trying to fool the workers. At least give them the money they have earned as well as the other rights that you have denied them in the name of 'reforms' whose only outcome in the Jiu Valley was to delay insolvency. Not out of compassion, but because they have earned the money.”