Planet excerpts

Claire Parfitt and Rachel Rowe on what mining struggles in Wales and Australia tell us about both climate change and the needs of working people.

More excerpts from Planet 217  

The ways we know each other and ourselves are transformed through collective struggles. Sometimes we manage to exceed and push beyond what is anticipated. The bonds formed between Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners and mining communities in south Wales are one such example. Matthew Warchus’s film Pride got us thinking about what notion of 'pride' might be required to combat climate change through a struggle around the conditions of contemporary work. We see that labour struggles of the 20th century were accompanied by a discourse of pride in being a worker, and for some, in being a miner. We ask, how might our collective nostalgia for labour movements in terms of the pride to be labour be unsettled by the catastrophic threat posed by our enduring reliance on coal mining?

Juxtaposing reflections on our families' histories in the Taff Bargoed and Cynon valleys with the contemporary political and economic situation in Australia, we ask whether there is another path for communities that rely on wages/welfare today. What possibilities are arising for our generation, a generation that must challenge catastrophic environmental destruction? Is it possible that we might not need to sacrifice our well-being, our environment and the futures of others to satisfy our immediate material needs and desires?

We propose that we can be proud of mining communities' battles to defend their livelihoods by clarifying these as struggles for dignity, sustainability and for community control over community interests. These characteristics will be essential in ongoing efforts to put an end to mining. To this we would add that a major battleground for our time is the struggle to collectively work less!

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