British ex-miners remember 1985 strike

British policeman attacks woman during miners' strike, Orgreave

From British daily The Morning Star:

Miners mark twenty-fifth anniversary of bitter strike

(Thursday 05 March 2009)

FORMER miners recalled the bitter events of the 1985 miners’ strike on Thursday 25 years after it took place.

The anniversary marked the beginning of what went on to become the longest-running dispute since the 1926 General Strike.

The resulting hardship, violence and bitterness affected a generation and many miners still resent those who carried on working.

Ex-miner Roy Sargesson said that if he saw a non-striker now, he would still ignore them. “Once a scab, always a scab,” he said.

The year-long dispute pitted the National Union of Mineworkers, led by Arthur Scargill, against Margaret Thatcher‘s Conservative government.

Clashes between miners and police over pit closures began in Yorkshire but quickly spread across the country.

Former union official Mike Appleyard said that the police were “dreadful” and had “a lot to be forgiven for.”

“There were riot shields and batons against men in trainers and plimsolls. Young men, the salt of the earth,” he said.

“I was arrested and thrown in jail with shackles on me. The police officer just stood me up, gave me a number, photographed me.

“His first words were, ‘do you know any trade union leaders? Do you know any communists?’ Straight up.

“This was Britain, anybody would think this was South Africa or some fascist state, but this was Britain,” he said.

See also here. And here.

Billy Bragg: With 25 years’ hindsight, Maggie’s bitter victory over the striking miners unleashed forces that led directly to this economic crisis: here.

See also here.

Margaret Thatcher blocked Soviet aid for striking miners, files reveal: here.

How Margaret Thatcher planned to undermine miners’ union: here.

25 thoughts on “British ex-miners remember 1985 strike

  1. 25 years on: leaders of scab union are on trial

    Two leaders of the Union of Democratic Miners (UDM)—a scab union set up to help break the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike—are to stand trial, charged with stealing nearly £150,000 from a charity for sick miners.

    Neil Greatrex was one of the founders of the UDM. As a result of the strike, the courts confiscated all the assets of the Nottinghamshire NUM union and gave the lot to the UDM.

    Twenty five years later, former UDM president Greatrex and ex-Notts UDM secretary Mick Stevens are accused of diverting money from the Nottinghamshire Miners’ Home charity to pay for improvements to their own homes.

    The prosecution came out of a fraud squad inquiry into miners’ compensation claims handled by the Mansfield-based union and Vendside, a subsidiary established by the UDM.

    Previously, two fat cat lawyers who ripped millions off sick and dying miners in a deal with the scab union were struck off for dishonesty.

    Vendside bankrolled the UDM through the millions it got from handling compensation payments by charging an extra fee.

    Thatcher used the scab UDM leaders to help defeat the magnificent strike. Mining areas are still paying the price.

    This is proof that putting the word “democratic” in a union’s name does not make it so.

    Phil Turner, Rotherham


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  5. Police weren’t just after pickets

    Tuesday 26 March 2013

    Apart from the police attacks on picketing miners during the 1984-5 strike, there was also harassment of those of us who were collecting funds to support the strikers.

    When the police prevented street collections in Lambeth, the council gave permission to collect from their properties.

    While collecting on town hall steps, a police officer told me I must move further up the steps as people could reach the collecting box while they were standing on the pavement!

    I then had to move further up the steps so that donors had to climb up to give money.

    I called for people to ignore police harassment. A short time later a man on a bicycle arrived and took my photograph. It was obvious the police were working under orders.

    Ron Lynn

    London SE1


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