The miners on the miner riots

2. The Miner riot from June 1990.

How was it to be a union leader immediately after 1989 ?

It was very difficult to be a union leader immediately after 1989 because you had to deal with many problems which never ceased to come up. I had always tried to deal with the problems not by myself but together with the members of the Union Council.

Every time after the council meeting we used to pick up 4-5 members and thus go to the very difficult spots in the mine when needed, to see if working conditions were getting better or not. And, unfortunately, in many cases, no change was registered, on the contrary, it was getting worse. The working material provision was every day more difficult and some materials, especially nails, were kind of given another destination, situation that occurred with the screws as well. Some people were taking advantage of the situation and were trading the materials in Turkey or God knows where. From this point of view, the Revolution also triggered a bad change, most of the people disregarding work discipline, some of them coming at work drunk or during the shift they pleased?

Ceauşescu?s regime kept the miners under control. Because, during the democratic regime, each of us, being granted freedom, interpreted it to our knowledge and this turned into chaos. Thus, each of us, when faced with the smallest conflict was threatening with going on strike, with making a scandal and a mate was there to say that he had his team and that nobody could force him to do anything. After the Revolution, all off us, even the Union and the leading staff had more than a dozen of problems while working with people.

Did you take part in the first miner riots?

I didn?t take part in the first miner riots but I had the misfortune to be part of that in June 1990 in Bucharest. Being already a union leader, you couldn?t follow your conscience, you had to do the way the crowd was telling you to, if not you would have been swamped.

If I had followed my conscience I would have been there because I have always been a proponent of negotiations and of peaceful discussions instead of fights because these never seem to function.

Yet, how come that you took part in that miner riot in June?

In June 1990 the officer on duty came to my house and said that he wouldn?t work in the third shift because he wanted to go to Bucharest. I hadn?t even had the time to turn on the TV to see what was going on. Thus, when I got to the mine, the miners told me that chaos was unleashed in Bucharest and that we had better go there. Then I said: ?How now, should we solve their problems? There are many inhabitants of Bucharest who have to solve them!? In the end, I had to call Cozma at home and this is how I could find out that he was in somebody?s house to watch the world football championship because that somebody had a colour TV.

Apparently he didn?t have a colour TV yet. I finally managed to get in touch with him and he told me that I was crazy, ?what Bucharest?? His answer was so edgy because the same day we had had a council meting with unions and there had been no discussion about Bucharest.

So isn?t it as they say now, that Cozma organized that miner riot?

No, it isn?t, at least that?s what I think because he told me ?Stay by the phone and I will call you from the Administration?. When he came back from the Administration he said: ?The train station is full, there?s no way to stop them! So, if people want to go to Bucharest, let them go!? That?s why I say that I don?t think that it was Cozma who got them there because when I called him, the train station was already full.

Then who led them there, because, at least lately, there had been great emphasis on Cozma having organized that riot?

I think there had been other persons infiltrated among them. Of course that we have no names, not even one and maybe we will never have any even if there had been many people who weren?t in the union together with Cozma, and he knew it.

But do you have clear pieces of evidence to prove that it had been a fabric?

I have a doubt because I don?t think that the miners would have gone to the train station without having been urged to do so, but I can?t say who talked them into it.

What did you do after getting to the mine?

After I got to the mine people had already started to leave the second shift also and then I told the officer on duty to allow those who wanted it to go to Bucharest in order to avoid any conflict. Thus, we brought them food and the buses took them to Petroşani.

Did you see any miners who didn?t want to go?

I can say almost half of them!

Was there any pay back?

Some blaming between them like ?Hoy, why aren?t you joining us because you also take advantage of the strike!?

Did they believe that by going to Bucharest they would have got certain advantages?

This is what they mainly believed, that by going there, they would have got certain advantages.

So, did they go there with a very pragmatic goal in their minds?

Yes, they thought that if going, they would have been given I don?t know what. But it wasn?t like that! I finally got to Bucharest by train and that train functioned under emergency conditions stopping only 2-3 times. We got to the North Railway Station and from there right to Victoriei Square. In Victoriei Square we met our union leaders and they talked for like 4-5 minutes, then the President and the Prime ?minister arrived and from then on we headed directly to the University. We arrived at Bucharest only on 15th in the morning and by the time we got there, the University had already been vandalised. It may very well be that it had been vandalised by the miners as well but by the time we got there, it had already been vandalised.

What did your group do there?

There were several burnt cars turned up side down and the miners helped the people to lift them up and to take them away. They started to clean up the places in Universităţii Square where the opponents? camp had been placed, but I think that this could have also been done by those living there. That order had been carried out by the police and afterwards they followed the police through Bucharest to do things like: doing away with the stalls which had been abusively installed, which didn?t seem fair to me. As far as I am concerned, I didn?t take part in these actions because I didn?t find it right to.

But what was really going on?

A guy or two used to come to pick up a group of miners and then they would leave together.

But were these people civilians or what were they wearing?

Yes, they were civilians!

And what were they saying?

Let?s take you to the Liberal Party, to the Peasant Party because they have drugs there and all sorts of things?

Did the miners buy it?

Yes, they did and they even put the objects taken from these residences into cars. But I told them: ?Hoy, when it comes to the point, nobody will believe that you have been there with the police since there is no minutes to prove it.? They took these objects from some people and gave them to others.

On the 15th in the afternoon, the miners had been divided into two groups: some at Polivalentă Hall and others at Casa Sc├ónteii. I had to go to the Polivalentă. There we watched football matches on TV and in the morning there arrived cars with food. Since I was the leader I divided the food, slicing bread, salami, ham and everything else. The supplies had been sent from Bucharest, I don?t know exactly from where, in special food vans; then, some inhabitants of Bucharest also came to bring us more food.

Then, I also wanted to eat with the miners I knew.

While I was eating, a car arrived, a tip-up truck and all the miners around me stepped in it. This is the moment when I felt awful because they had come there with me and they were leaving God knows with whom. I really felt deserted. Then, I asked them what they were doing and where they were going. Then, the driver replied: ? Don?t worry, I?ll take them to Ferentari!? And there was another civilian in the cabin with the driver. And then I told to my buddies: ?Hoy, if someone came to your house pretending to force his way in, how would you feel? Would you like it?? Then, they got the point, stepped off the car and joined another group.

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