Coal Mining, Foreign Workers and Mine Safety: Steps towards European Integration, 1946–85
The Treaty of Paris was signed by the Six. As a consequence, the European Coal and Steel Community was established and there was a common market for coal, iron and steel. This chapter examines the implications of this development for workers employed in the coal industry. In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, Europe faced a critical shortage of coal and other raw materials that seriously threatened any hope of economic and social recovery. The migration policy was based on a short-term contract that gave enough flexibility to match the numbers of foreign workers with the available jobs and the volume of stocks of coal. Belgian trade unions were alarmed at many of the developments in the mining industry during these years. The Marcinelle disaster took place during the negotiations over the establishment of the European Economic Community. Belgian coal mining had attracted thousands of Italians and other foreign workers since the end of the Second World War.