Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Salute the miners’ strike for jobs

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the start of the great miners’ strike in defence of jobs and communities. Their year-long confrontation with the state and the Tory government remains an outstanding example of the determination of ordinary working people to fight for their rights.

By the time of the strike, officially, unemployment in Britain had risen to around 3.25 million – although the real total was nearer 4 million – and the privatisation of all the great state industries, starting with British Telecom, was underway. It was the miners alone who answered the call of history, and challenged the right of the state and governments to put people out of work and into poverty.

The strike was provoked by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher when the state-controlled National Coal Board (NCB) on 1 March 1984 announced plans for the closure of 20 pits in Yorkshire with the loss of 20,000 jobs. The government was in fact secretly planning for the closure of 70 pits throughout the country and the virtual destruction of the industry.
The 600 miners at Cortonwood colliery in South Yorkshire met on Sunday 4 March and voted to strike, calling on the Yorkshire Area of the National Union of Miners for support, which was duly given a few days later. The miners of Scotland, Wales, the North-East, Kent and North Derbyshire came out on March 12.

So began one of the longest, most decisive, most determined and extraordinary strikes of all time. The government had prepared very carefully for this showdown, building up stocks of coal at the power stations, while at the same time switching some of them to burn oil.....................................

read more of this account by photographer P J Arkell with some of his photos at


  1. I do not need to read about it I was part of it, but I still Blame Scargill for not having a vote. A ballot would have seen the whole country strike not just some.

  2. The decision not to hold a national ballot wasn't made by Scargill. It was made democratically by a majority of delegates from every area of the country at a special conference.

    And they were right. A national ballot would have been for No Strike because many miners still believed Thatcher's lies that they were only going to close a handful of uneconomic pits and most would be safe.