Polish miners block coal transports in bid for more money

Workers from the Polish Mining Group (PGG), Europe's biggest hard coal producer, have blocked coal transports to power plants, demanding better compensation for working weekends and higher wages.

The protest is planned to last two days.

The PGG board say they want to continue talks with the protesters, but with a facilitator present, while the workers want to start talks right immediately.

PGG spokesperson Tomasz Glogowski said that "we're currently waiting for the appointment of a mediator."

"When this happens, we'll start talks with his or her help," Glogowski added.

According to unofficial estimates, the workers' demands could cost the company about PLN 130 million-140 million (EUR 28.4 million-30.6 million) in total.

On Tuesday morning, protesters blocked a railway track at the Halemba coal mine, brandishing union flags and a banner with information about their strike action. Other mines have also seen similar protests.

In a show of solidarity, farmers from the Agrounia organisation brought fresh bread and sausages to the striking miners.

About 35-40 trains carrying coal leave PGG mines every day. The unions had already blocked rail transports of PGG coal between Dec 21 and 23, for one day in each of PGG mines.

Commenting on the blockade later on Tuesday, Piotr Pyzik, a deputy state assets minister responsible for the mining sector, said it constitutes a threat to Poland's energy security.

"In this form it's playing around with energy security," Pyzik said. He added that he was in touch both with the PGG management and the miners, and voiced hope for a prompt conclusion of the protest.