Many years ago, the mining industry played an integral part in the economy of the country and the cities within it. After all, thousands of jobs in the UK relied on this job and although mines aren’t as active in 2019 as they once were, it is safe to say that our coal supply isn’t going to extract itself. With this said, there have been many different strikes and protests over the years regarding the closure of collieries and the treatment of workers. Read on as the team here at Pearson Fuels go over a few interesting facts about the strike that grabbed headlines during the 80’s…
What were the miners protesting about?
Following an announcement to close 20 coal pits and reduce national capacity by at least 4 million tonnes, a protest was called by a man named Arthur Scargill, the president of the National Union of Mineworkers. After all, if these decisions went ahead then at least 20,000 people would find themselves out of a job. The Yorkshire and Kent miners were the first to go on strike and they were quickly followed by those located in Scotland, South Wales and even Durham.
How long did the strike last?
On the 6th of March 1984, the decision to strike was made in protest of the governments long-term plan to close up to 20 collieries. This figure was said to be closer to 70 according to Scargill, however, the government denied this claim many times. With this said, documents were released in 2014 that confirmed that Ian MacGregor, the head of the National Coal Board, did plan to close 75 pits over a three-year period during the 1980’s. The strike ended just under a year later on the 3rd of March 1985 after the decision to return to work was made when union money to feed the families of those protesting began to run out.
What did the strike achieve?
Since no formal ballot had taken place, the courts ruled the strike illegal and, in a bid to prevent miners from striking for a prolonged period of time, it was also deemed illegal to claim state benefits. This meant that Thatcher was essentially forcing the mining families to survive on next to nothing in order to force them to return to work. Eventually, this worked and many defeated strikers re-entered the mines after a new agreement with the management was formed. Whilst the pit closures that were the catalyst for the strike eventually occurred, this year-long act certainly surprised the government.
Although the miners’ strike was considered unsuccessful in terms of its overall aim, it showed the government that the working class wasn’t prepared to suffer under austerity. In fact, the strike is considered the longest industrial dispute regarding mining closures to this day and has paved the way for a more efficient mining industry. Here at Pearson Fuels, we are proud to offer high-quality house coals for all your indoor needs! To find out more information, get in contact with the best coal merchants on the market and speak to a member of the team today.