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Final Resolution International Miners' Seminar May 20-23, 2004

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At the invitation of "Kumpel für AUF"1430250, the First International Miners' Seminar was held in the Workers' EducationCenter in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, from May 20 to 23, 2004. The objective of the Seminar was to organize the international exchange of miners' experience of their situation and struggles and to draw conclusions on possibilities of cooperation and of joint struggle across borders.

The Seminar started on Thursday with welcoming the international guests. On Friday, they got a first insight into coal-mining in Germany and miners' life by visiting the MiningMuseum in Bochum and a settlement housing for miners. Later, the results of the first seminar of Kumpel für AUF, held in the year 2002 on the development of the RAG (Ruhrkohle AG), were introduced....

A first climax of the Seminar was the performance of the "Schwazer Knappenspiel – anno 1500" by a theater group from Austria.

164 participants, among them ten international guests from four continents, participated in the two-day miners' seminar. On Saturday, they dealt with the reports from 21 countries. On Sunday, the discussion concentrated on three main aspects in order to draw joint conclusions on this basis:

1. The reorganization of international mining industry and the different and concurrent effects for the miners and their families in the individual countries. The following phenomena were expounded as main phenomena:

  • A tendency towards rationalization of methods of production and adjustment of the level of production in underground and open-cast mining which generates a relative conformity of labor productivity and working conditions and through which backward mining methods must give way to advanced methods. This stirs up competition among the miners in the respective countries and destroys hundreds of thousands of jobs.
  • A tendency towards privatizing former state-owned mines which had mainly been built up after the Second World War to nationalize the mining industry.
  • An international process of concentration on a small, but most profitable number of mining centers and locations, which, in an increasing number of countries, renders production of national coal reserves as strategic energy supply unnecessary. A fierce struggle among the biggest international mining monopolies has set off over the control of these production centers, which sharpens the general threat of war.
  • The international requirement to extend the infrastructure, logistics, conditions of transport and distribution the provision of which is demanded by the international mining monopolies as services from the respective nation states.
  • The People's Republic of China, being the biggest coal producer in the world, grows into a special role due to the oncoming establishment of a mining monopoly with international predominance; this will extremely sharpen the international struggle over raw-material supplies and markets among the mining monopolies.
  • The tendency towards extending the conversion of coal into electricity and building new coal-fired power stations on the most modern technical basis throughout the world.
  • The tendency towards liberalizing the markets for coal trade, mining equipment and products for coal upgrading in order to enlarge the sales markets for the supermonopolies, with the international mining monopolies dictating the prices for the world market.
  • A general tendency towards the reduction of miners' wages, the flexibilization of their working hours, the dismantling of safety regulations and provisions at work, briefly: towards the general intensification of exploitation and ruination of the miners' labor power.
  • An increase of manifestations of overworking and destruction of the natural environment, the foundations of agriculture, fishing, etc..
  • A tendency towards the dissolution of the families, the separation of the miners from their families, deterioration of their living and housing conditions.
  • All these tendencies go along with the emergence of an international miners' movement and the completion of the material bases for a new socialist societal order on a worldwide scale, in which the workers, once they have gained power, can decide on raw materials and the wealth for equal benefit of all peoples.

2. Political and economic attacks by the mining monopolies, the states or international instruments of the monopolies, like IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc.

  • The reorganization of the international mining industry results in a fierce attack against the living situation of the miners and their families. There is a direct relationship between investment activity and the dismantling of civil and democratic rights. The demand of the mining monopolies for special economic zones without rights for the workers and without collective agreements as well as the installation of union-free mines are increasing all over the world.
  • In countries where miners' unions are inevitable, the mining monopolies attempt to usher in company unions under their direct control or reformist unions ready for unconditional class collaboration. This is facilitated by the increasing division of the workers in those with binding employment contracts on the one hand and agency or temporary workers on the other. The monopolies, with the assistance of their states, have started the attack on the workers' organizations and try to split the trade unions.
  • Even though, in Germany, the means of deception is in the fore, the means of force, open oppression of miners, is increasing all over the world. Thus, in Colombia, for instance, the guerilla struggles are used to suppress any working-class movement by pointing at "fighting terrorism." On a worldwide scale, the miners must discuss political deception and open force, which in reality constitute a unity, with one aspect stepping into fore at one point in time and another one at some other time.

3. The forms of struggles and organizations of the working-class movement – their effects and problems

  • Historically, the miners' movement frequently played a special role. In 1934, it were the striking miners of Asturia who opened the struggle against the Franco fascists in Spain. In the Soviet Union, the 1989 miners' strike ushered in the end of Glasnost and Perestroika. In Yugoslavia, the miners started the overthrow of the Milosevic regime. In Bolivia, the miners put themselves at the head of the national popular uprising in 2003 against the sell-out of the natural gas deposits to the international monopolies.
  • What is essential is to overcome the division of the miners' movement in different countries by means of trade unions with party-political or religious affiliation, so-called company unions, etc., which impede or undermine joint action.
  • In countries with general unions in the industrial sectors, trade unions as miners' fighting organizations must become subject to discussion, against the policy of class collaboration of the union bureaucracy, which attempts to employ the miners' unions as policing agents in the employers' interests.
  • The miners' movement has generated most various forms of struggle: occupation of mines, strikes, demonstrations, marches to the capitals to the seats of national governments, even armed, militant disputes with the police and the military to which they did not submit. In some cases, like in South Africa, the former Soviet Union, Rumania, Yugoslavia and Bolivia, this decisively contributed to the overthrow of entire governments.
  • However, the miners' strong militant resolve and hardest forms of struggle stand in contradiction with the insufficient development of their class consciousness and their organization level, in trade unions or political parties.
  • Without overcoming the division of the miners on national scale, forging the international unity of the miners' movement cannot be realized!

These results lead to the following conclusions which the Seminar participants oblige themselves to realize:

1. The exchange of ideas and opinions among the different miners' organizations should be continued, intensified and broadened. To this end, an international homepage will be installed; all participating organizations oblige themselves to publish their experience and information on the miners' movement. "Kumpel für AUF" in Germany is put in charge of taking care of this homepage.

2. The Conference suggests to continue this Seminar in certain periods of time and in accordance with the respective forces, financial possibilities and political requirements and to win over more miners' organizations for participation. The Seminar explicitly declares its solidarity with the strike just started by the miners in Marcona, Peru, for higher wages. Also, solidarity is declared with the 22,000 oil workers in Colombia who have been on strike since 29 days.

3. The participants oblige themselves to practice mutual solidarity in representing miners' interests and in the struggles for the defense and expansion of their rights. The aim is to gradually make every significant miners' struggle in the respective country a joint concern of the international miners' movement.

4. For the future, we intend to coordinate our struggles and to make our demands consistent to each other.

5. The miners' movement is part of the international working-class movement and unites with all progressive mass movements of the peasants, women, youth and working intelligentsia:

  • For social rights, in particular, cost-free health care!
  • For democratic rights and liberties!
  • For the protection of the environment!
  • For the maintenance of world peace!
  • And the struggle for liberation from exploitation and oppression!

Long live international working-class unity! Long live international solidarity!

 


1431251Coal Miners for AUF; AUF: stands for alternativ, unabhängig fortschrittlich [alternative, independent, progressive]; AUF is an electoral alliance of individuals, founded in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on the occasion of local elections in 1999