Sardinian miners, armed with hundreds of pounds of explosives, have barricaded themselves just over 1,300 ft (400m) underground, to put pressure on Rome to ensure the survival of the mine, and also their jobs.
Ahead of a government meeting on the future of the mine later this week, 100 of the 460 coal miners employed at the Carbosulcis di Nuraxi Figus mine, just west of the Sardinian capital city of Cagliari, want to ensure that they have a future.
workers seized 771 lbs (350 kg) of the companies' explosives before locking themselves underground in the mine on Monday. A load of coal has been dumped at the entrance of the mine, making access only possible on foot.
Presumably, the threat is that they will blow themselves up unless the government comes back with a positive response.
, a miner who has worked at the coal mine for 28 years, told Reuters
, “We are worried that the mine may close. We are afraid for our jobs.”
"We are prepared to stay here until we hear a response from the government that secures the future of the mine. We will stay here indefinitely," he added
Workers are concerned about the potential outcome of the meeting, and, hoping to diversify operations, are demanding a 200 million-euro investment in a carbon-capture project, which would store polluting emissions underground to reduce global warming. The miners are also requesting a plan to produce electricity at the mine. If these demands are met, workers feel there will be stronger job security for them.
While Carbosulcis di Nuraxi Figus was believed in 2006 to have around 600 million metric tons of coal reserves, the mine has struggled to stay productive, raising doubts about its viability.
This is not the first time that workers at this mine have protested. Workers occupied the pit in 1984, 1993 and 1995, and stayed in a tunnel for 100 days.
Chief Economist at Saxobank, Steen Jakobson told Reuters, "Unemployment will continue to rise until we see an improvement in the economy, and that may not be until next year."
With an almost 11% unemployment rate in Italy, and a severe debt crisis over the whole eurozone, workers are now prepared to do just about anything to protect their jobs, and as the eurozone governments continue to trim their budgets and make cuts, the working class continues to be the hardest hit in the crisis.