Whilst coal mining is still a profitable industry today it was the be all and end all of many peoples livelihood 30 years ago which meant that funding cuts could jeopardise the income of thousands. In fact, this is exactly what happened in 1984 and led to the infamous UK Miner Strike. Since our industry relies on all things coal, we are going to tell the story of what happened during that tumultuous year…
When and Why?
The UK Miner’s Strike began on the 5th of March 1984 and came to an end of the 3rd of March 1985; lasting just short of one year. The 1980’s saw the National Union of Miners as a very strong organisation that had high links to the Labour Party however in 1981 the threat of pit closure were discussed widely and without distain, causing the government to back down. Two years later in 1983, Thatcher appointed a man by the name of Ian MacGregor as the head of National Coal Board who was known for closures and cutbacks. By the end of the very same year, Thatcher, who had grown more comfortable in her position, began tackling the unions and announced in 1984 that 20 mining pits were to close, leaving 20,000 jobless which led to the beginning of the UK Miner’s Strike.
The strain of the strike on the miners was immense since they were earning no money nor were they eligible for benefits since the government had deemed the strike illegal. This meant that they had to rely on savings and handouts in order to survive. In fact, some strikers broke and decided to work, becoming known as ‘scabs’.
The End of the Strike
Whilst the strike officially ended in 1985, the death of David Wilkie accelerated its closure. The incident which occurred in November 1984 saw a 21kg concrete block dropped from a bridge onto the taxi which Wilkie was driving, killing him instantly. The taxi taking a miner by the name if David Williams to Methyr Vale Miner with a police escort at the time. The tragic death and public relations disaster managed to turn sympatric members of the public against the miner’s and eventually the strike came to an end when a vote was passed; decreeing that the miners would return to work without a new agreement with management. Over the following few years, the mining pits closed very rapidly and the industry became privatised in 1994.
Striking is a protest that people use to show distain in response to a government decision. Most of the time they are successful and manage to bring people together however other times they can split a nation just like the Miner’s Strike did. Being able to understand some of the history behind our industry is very beneficial and eye opening, especially since coal is so readily available. For more information or to order your own fuel supply, speak to the best coal merchants around today!