At the end of this year, more than a thousand miners and subcontractors are expected to lose their jobs after 10 coal mining pits close.
However, thousands of workers won’t remain jobless for long. The Spanish government has worked with labor unions to execute a transition deal that will help coal miners with the progress toward clean energy.
The government will be investing $285 million over the next decade to ensure workers can keep their livelihood.
The unions will cover Spain’s privately owned pits. It will mix early retirement schemes for miners over 48, invoke restorative environmental measures in coal communities and re-skill coal miners into working with safer and greener technologies.
600 workers in Spain’s northern regions — Aragón, Asturias, and Castilla y León will benefit from social aid during the transition, while 60% of the miners will be able to opt for early retirement.
According to The Guardian, the measure is described as a landmark initiative to benefit the industry’s struggling workers.
“Spain can export this deal as an example of good practice,” said Monteserrat Mir, the Spanish Confedral secretary for the European Trades Union Congress.
Tersea Ribera, the minister for ecological transition told The Guardian:
“With this agreement, we have solved the first urgent task we had on the table when we came to government.”
“Our aim has been to leave no one behind. We also want to go further, we want to innovate. That is why we offer the drawing up of “Just Transition” contracts, with the aim of helping the regions to consolidate the employment of the future.”
Laura Martin- Murrillo, a government negotiator, described the pact as, “the end of a process of restructuring many communities has been going on for decades. It had to be done sensitively to bring hope to places that sometimes have lost faith that it could work. A lot of young people abandoned these areas, and they experienced a change in identity.”
“Negotiations with the last few hundred minors employed in publicly owned mines would begin now,” added Martin-Murillo. “We will look at the same transition plans for those workers,” she said.
Overall Monteserrat Mir is confident in the initiative.
“We have shown that it’s possible to follow the Paris agreement without damage (to people’s livelihoods). We don’t need to choose between a job and protecting the environment. It is possible to have both.”