Dozens of tourists got stiffed this week when they could not enter the Parajd (Praid, Salzberg) salt mine, as about 150 miners working there started a strike, disrupting all tourist services.
The protest of the miners is actually not just affecting Parajd, which relies hugely on the tourist potential of the mine, but several other mines in the country as well. The protesters’ actions were sparked this time because they have not received their vacation vouchers since August.
Nevertheless, the mayor of Parajd, Sándor Bokor, told the Maszol.ro news portal that the claims of the diggers’ are perfectly justifiable and that their entire wage system should actually be rectified.
“Salt mining is in a miserable state in Romania because of the pricing policies and the bad commercial policies,” emphasized the mayor who has worked in this sector as well and knows its ups and downs. He also pointed out that Romania’s salt reserves are large and of good quality, thus it is unacceptable that the import of salt and its pricing hurts the local industry.
The municipality of Parajd, located in Hargita county of Transylvania, has one of the largest salt reserves of the country: an estimated 50 billion tons of NaCl lies underground in the area. The mine is still being exploited and is a major tourist attraction as well due to the health benefits of the area: the mine’s microclimate is proven to be very beneficial in curing several, mostly respiratory, illnesses, so many people visit it to cure their ailments.
The underground visiting place of the mine is on “Level 50,” which is at a depth of 120 meters from the surface. Visitors are transported from the gate to the visiting area by buses, which have to go through a 1,250-meter-long tunnel. At “Level 50,” one can enjoy all of the benefits of a small underground tourist village: There is atmospheric illumination, Wi-Fi, a playground for children, creative and amusement places, an ecumenical chapel, a coffee shop, and a 3D cinema as well.
The municipality’s head has told the media that tourist attendance to the mine actually generates large amounts of income, but the mine and the community does not see any of it; the money goes entirely to Salrom, the state company that operates the mines. Although, parts of the profit should be used to carry out some developments that are essential for the better exploitation of the reserves and for the improvement of salt-related medical tourism as well. The mayor also said that the irony of fate is that the protests began just as the government was transitioning, right as the dismissed cabinet no longer holds the authority to solve the situation, and it is uncertain if the new one is prepared to handle it… “It would be really important that the effectiveness of the solution would be at least of medium-term,” pointed out the mayor.
The trade union representative of the Parajd mine, József Kelemen, informed the Agerpres news portal that on Friday they still could not reach a compromise with the management of Salrom, so the mine was closed, and the strike continues until a viable agreement is reached. Miners throughout the country did not get their vacation vouchers because that amount of money was transferred by the company’s management to the Râmnicu Vâlcea mine, which is being reorganized…
The number of tourists visiting the Parajd mine is otherwise constantly increasing: From the beginning of the year until the end of August, 523,129 people entered the mine.
Title image: Tourists love the Parajd salt mine, as it is a good place for healing and has entertainment opportunities as well