Miners protest underground at Poland's biggest coal company

Miners at PGG, Poland's biggest coal producer, refused to return to the surface at the end of their shift on Monday in an underground protest against planned restructuring, the company and trade union representatives said.

WARSAW, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Miners at PGG, Poland's biggest coal producer, refused to return to the surface at the end of their shift on Monday in an underground protest against planned restructuring, the company and trade union representatives said.

It was not clear how many miners were taking part in the protest, which differs from previous demonstrations that have tended to involve marching through the capital.

Unions at PGG and government representatives have been struggling to work out a restructuring plan for the loss-making company, after a proposal by PGG management to close two coal mines was rejected in July.

Last week, unions threatened strike action unless Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki joined ongoing negotiations in person by Monday.

Poland wants to speed up phasing out coal and spend billions to build renewable and nuclear power infrastructure to address challenges related to climate change and ensure stable power supplies, the government said earlier this month.

Poland has been the only European Union state to refuse to pledge climate neutrality by 2050, with the ruling Law and Justice party saying it needs more time and money to shift its economy from coal to cleaner energy sources.

But rising carbon emission costs, the European Union's ambitious climate policies and the new coronavirus outbreak are forcing Warsaw to speed up its energy transformation.

Trade unions representatives were expected to hold a press conference later on Monday on the next steps.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by Barbara Lewis)

((agnieszka.barteczko@thomsonreuters.com; +48226539700; Reuters Messaging: agnieszka.barteczko.reuters.com@thomsonreuters.net))

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