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Polish miners block coal for power plants to demand pay hike

MINERS employed by Poland’s largest coal company blocked deliveries of the fossil fuel to state-run power plants today, demanding higher pay to keep pace with surging consumer prices.

Groups of protesters were stopping trains leaving the Halemba mine and other mines of the Polish Coalmining Group in the southern Silesia region.

The miners are calling for higher pay for weekend shifts and clear declarations that wages this year will rise to offset inflation, which hit 7.7 per cent in November. They are also protesting against cheap imported coal from Russia.

Up to 40 trainloads of coal are dispatched from the company’s mines each day.

The two-day action could affect power generation at large state-run plants, which provide most of Poland's energy, but individuals can still buy coal for heating their homes.

The mining company says it is ready for talks, though a mediator is still to be appointed.

The state-run company is scheduled to produce more than 23 million tons of coal this year, down from some 24.5m tons in 2020.

Almost 70 per cent of Poland’s energy comes from coal, while renewable sources are being developed, mainly solar and wind energy. The coal-mining sector is traditionally one of Poland’s biggest employers.

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