Some 100 coal miners are staging an underground strike in Valea Jiu mining valley after news that the mines would be closed.
Miners at the Paroseni şi Uricani mines in Hunedoara county, southwestern Romania, barricaded themselves underground Monday evening after the Hunedoara Energy Complex declared bankruptcy.
Trade union leaders said that the energy company has had its bank accounts frozen due to their action.
The prefect, the chief government official for Hunedoara, Fabius Kiszely, tried to speak to the miners on Tuesday evening to persuade them to give up their strike but failed.
Meanwhile, the administrative board of the Hunedoara Energy Company decided to start bankruptcy proceedings. Union leader Darius Campean said there was no other solution. Union leaders want an amendment included in the proceedings to write off their debts.
The company posted losses of 270 million lei in the first half of the year and had total debts of RON 1.6 billion, Hotnews reported. The complex generates some 5% of the country’s electricity.
The company operates the last four coal mines still open in the Jiu Valley and two power units that run on coal and employs 4,000.
The region used to be an economic powerhouse, but the Jiu Valley has spent the last two decades slowly phasing out coal mining.
Closure of the mines began in 1996, when about 45,000 were employed at mines, which went down to about 20,000 three years later. In 2002, 4.5 million tons of coal were extracted, while in 2016, it was 1.9 million tons.
The Jiu Valley had a population of over 142,000 inhabitant in the early 1990s. Restructuring programs have led to the dismissal of approximately 40,000 employees.