'I dream of olives, lemons, figs, and oranges. And some ewe's milk cheese.' (Photo: Arben Celi/Reuters)
To be an Albanian miner is to be someone who starts each claustrophobia-defying day descending within the earth to a depth that the bulk of humanity—even in the grave—cannot begin to comprehend. The Albanian miner perseveres as a matter of course against rock-hard obstacles and has a living tradition of outlasting obdurate circumstances and regimes.
Albania's chromium mine at Bulqize, 88 miles from Tirana, has been operating since 1942. Past generations of miners have refused to be worn down by a Nazi occupation and communist rule. Today's workers are determined to wear down Austria's DCM DECOmetal.
Prone on pieces of cardboard and dirty blankets, 1,400 meters under the ground, 260 meters below sea level, 16 miners have been on a hunger strike for a week. The hungry 16 are fasting in support of 700 others in the miner brotherhood who have been shutting down the mine since early July. The mine workers want a 20 percent pay hike and fresh investment to improve conditions in the mine.
The mine, reports Reuters, is Albania's biggest employer. The hungry 16 are Albanian labor's staunchest activists.