Coal Women: Trusting in Uncertainty

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“Coal women: Trusting in uncertainty” is a multimedia documentary that offers a portrait of life in the Spanish coal region of El Bierzo through the testimony of 3 main characters belonging to a collective known as Coal Women. This collective of women includes wives, daughters and close friends of miners, who have joined to support the mining sector and fight for keeping it alive. These women do not want to see how the only way for them to maintain their families disappears and do not want to see how the region in which they live ceases to exist.

This documentary aims to give some light to a group that has had little representation in the media. A group of women that has always shown its support to the miners and that, for the first time, has successfully gotten involved in a more organized way, achieving a representation and a more important weight in the sector. The multimedia tells the story of three women just after the most important mining sector strike ended, in a period of uncertainty in which it is not known what will happen to the future of mining and their families and just before the end of the subsidies from the Coal Plan (2006-2012) and new negotiations occur to sign and finalize the new plan that will be decisive for the miners future.

In Spain, at the beginning of the 1990s, the number of workers in the mining sector was approximately 40,000. Today that number has been reduced to 8000. As a result, economic activity has been also affected and many villages have been left almost empty. The area of El Bierzo, in the Spanish province of Leon, will be one of the most affected areas by the cuts in the sector. It is also the area in which began the last strike of the mining sector that broke out to protest over government cuts in subsidies for coal. The strike lasted four months, from May to August 2012. Miners occupied mine pits during the strike and for 35 days thousands of miners walked 400 km to Madrid, in a protest march known as “The Black March”, from the mining regions to complain against cuts of over 60% in coal funds. This was the longest and most violent strike in the mining industry for 50 years. It was a very difficult period for many families, as many families were for moths without any income at all.

  • Date: June 2013
  • Filed under: Photography, Videography