Poland’s miners protest coal imports seen as threat to jobs

International News
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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Miners in southern Poland worried that massive coal imports will eliminate their jobs on Tuesday blocked railway tracks on the import route.

A few hundred miners with trade union flags in the southern coal mining region town of Slawkow also planted devices on the tracks that looked like explosives.

They said that imports of millions of tons of cheaper Russian coal are undercutting their jobs and pointed to millions of tons of unsold Polish coal piling up at their mines.

Miners also announced a massive protest in Warsaw on Feb. 28 in demand of job protection, higher pay and an end to coal imports. The protest will take place early during campaign season ahead of the presidential election on May 10.

Coal mining is Poland’s single largest employer, accounting for some 83,000 jobs.

The government says that Poland’s coal will remain the nation’s chief energy source for years to come and is supporting the opening of a new coal mine while also facing international pressure to cut the use of the fossil fuel that is harmful to the environment.

Last year, Poland produced over 61 million tons of coal but sold only 58.4 million tons. At the same time some 16.7 million tons of coal were imported, mostly from Russia.

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