Several thousand miners from Bochum, W. Germany, marched in protest against the proposed closure of?
Several thousand miners from Bochum, W. Germany, marched in protest against the proposed closure of four mines round this Ruhr town, Dec. 6. Though the town is brilliantly lit with colourful street decorations, Christmas holds no joy for the miners at present, by Dec. 24 they might be without work, redundant because of one of the many coal crises now sweeping Western Europe.
The relentless flow of oil into industry and homes, displacing coal, necessitates economics and retrenchment in coal mining. A special bill is now before the German Bundestag to impose a short term tax on oil. It is designed to slow down the too rapid switch from coal to oil, and to provide time for rationalisation of the coal industry. Of the estimated GBP25-million annual revenue from this tax some is expected to be used to compensate and re-train redundant miners.
Bochum has about 7,000 mine workers. Not all of them attended the protest march. There has been a split over the Government's proposed 'Social Plan' for compensation. Many shopkeepers and others joined the march - they will suffer from the drop in available spending money.
Marchers toured the town and the four affected mines, and passed the partly built GBP12-million Bochum power station. When the mines close, coal for the power station furnaces will be brought by rail from Essen, over 15 miles away. The Bochum miners ask; Why? Why not supply the power station from their own mines?
Telegrams have teen exchanged between Federal Chancellor Adenauer and the Bochum mine union leaders. the Chancellor has instructed Economics Minister Erhard to meet the union leaders Dec. 8, in Bonn.
Britain and Belgium also have coal crises to contend with. Another 46 British collieries are to be closed next year. Open-cast production is being cut by 4-million tons, and similar cuts will be made in deep-mine working.
Belgium, within the framework of the European Coal and Steel Community, struggles to isolate her high-price home market and so prevent French, German and Dutch surplus dumping. Exports from 'outside' countries - principally Britain and America - to Belgium will probably be cut to about an eighth of last year's level. But exports from the Community members will be increased.
The Community's High Authority will meet Dec. 15, to discuss proposals to force cuts in Belgian coal production capacity. It is intended to close 18% of production capacity by the end of 1961 instead of 1963, as agreed under a previous plan.
Belgians are blamed for their coal crisis. The High Authority alleges they did not take advantage of the five-year subsidy intended to help reduced Belgian coal prices and readjust the industry.