Sydney Morning Herald Denigrates Miners

Open Letter

Dear Sydney Morning Herald,

You did your readers and all working people a grave disservice today. By titling a column about hundreds of thousands of miners around the world going on strike for better working and living conditions a “strike contagion” — and thus associating actions by workers with germs, plague, and disease transmission — you forgo journalistic integrity and objectivity for something base and, quite honestly, cruel.

The Pike River disaster, in which two Australian miners were killed, was just one of the deadly accidents that happen almost every day in mines around the world. I know — I blog and tweet each and every one of them @coalmtn.

Miners trying to protect their livelihoods — and their lives — by striking for better wages and safer working conditions are quite simply the opposite of a contagion. They are, in fact, a cure for the deadly disease of corporate greed and rampant safety violations in the global mining sector.

And the Sydney Morning Herald should be embarrassed by calling the cry for justice by these miners, or any working people, a contagion.

Mark Nowak

Mark Nowak, a 2010 Guggenheim fellow, is the author of Coal Mountain Elementary (Coffee House Press, 2009) and Shut Up Shut Down (Coffee House Press, 2004). He currently works as Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Read other articles by Mark, or visit Mark's website.