The survival of an entire sector and its region is at stake. The reasons: the asphyxiating rise in the price of electricity and fuel, as well as the lack of agreement between the central government and the transport sector. The difficult situation has led the Andalusian Marble Business Association (AEMA), together with the companies of the Marble Region and their workers, to organise an act of protest to urge the Spanish Government to take measures to include this industry in the aid to alleviate the increase in costs.
The stone sector makes intensive use of electricity, due to the high power consumption of the machinery. In the words of the president of AEMA, Jesús Posadas, “it is unacceptable that the cost of electricity has tripled so far this year. This increase,” he stressed, “makes the sector’s survival unviable”. In diesel, both professional, which is used by companies that have their own fleet of trucks, and diesel used in the primary mining sector, which is the source of power for all quarry machinery, the region can consume about 25 million litres per year. As the manager explained at the event, “its price, from January to today, has doubled”. That is why the industry, which cannot pass on these increases to price rises that the market assumes, describes the situation as “unsustainable” and fears the destruction, not only of the entire productive fabric, but also of the 5,000 direct permanent jobs and 12,500 indirect jobs.
During the event, which was supported by the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Confederation of the Province of Almería ASEMPAL and the Almería Bahía Port Foundation, the marble employers’ association called for an imminent government agreement with the transport sector, which they strongly supported. “We cannot work at cost price; neither can we”, said Posadas. Today, after 10 days of stoppages, the sector is unable to serve national and international orders, as well as suffering from a shortage of both raw materials and industrial supplies. “We are at risk of collapse with the goods and we do not want to see us doomed to the stoppages that other sectors are carrying out, warned the president of AEMA, who makes it clear that the aim is to avoid ending in a state of social alarm and a deep crisis in this region that lives, almost exclusively, of this industry.