Kentucky, USA, unpaid miners stop coal trains

This 2 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Blackjewel Protest in Cumberland

Shaylan Clark and I speak to the protesters in Cumberland, Kentucky.

By Samuel Davidson in the USA:

Kentucky miners block train tracks for sixth day demanding back pay

3 August 2019

Out-of-work Kentucky coal miners are now in their sixth day of blocking railroad tracks and preventing the coal company from moving coal out of the bankrupt mine that they worked.

On Monday, a group of miners at the Blackjewel Cloverlick mines in Harlan County, Kentucky, stood on the railroad tracks as a train loaded with coal attempted to leave the closed mine, demanding that they receive the back pay they are owed (see: “Unpaid Kentucky Blackjewel miners block coal train to demand wages”).

Word quickly spread, and the miners were soon joined by fellow miners and dozens of other supporters in this small town. Miners have continued blocking the train round the clock and are now in their sixth day.

Nearly 600 miners worked at the Blackjewel mines in Kentucky. Another 1,300 miners worked at the company’s other mines. Blackjewel employed 500 miners in Virginia, 30 in West Virginia, and nearly 700 in Wyoming in part of a massive strip mine operation in the Powder River Basin.

On Monday July 1, Blackjewel LLC abruptly declared bankruptcy, shutting all its operations. Miners found out about it only when they showed up to work that morning. A few days later, local banks began notifying the miners that the paychecks they received the week before had bounced.

Most workers had already used the money to pay car and home loans, credit cards and utility bills. Many have been hit with bounced check fees and late fees on top of no longer having a job.

“No Pay, We Stay”, are among the signs that are posted around the workers’ camp site.

In addition to missing their paychecks, workers have found out that the company canceled their health insurance, stopped paying into their pension plans and even stopped making child support payments for miners who had the money directly removed from checks.

Many workers report that they had to pay cash for needed medical procedures when medical facilities refused to take their insurance.

Kentucky law requires that companies that are less than five years old take out a bond to insure four weeks of payroll. Blackjewel never took out the insurance, and Kentucky lawmakers never mandated any enforcement of the law.

While workers are being robbed of their livelihoods, Blackjewel CEO Jeff Hoops continues to build a $32 million resort and golf course.

On Wednesday, state police were called to the Cloverlick Mine along with officials from CSX, which owns and operates the railroad. They reportedly worked out a deal with the miners to allow them to remove the two engines they had there, while leaving the cars loaded with coal in place.

Workers are continuing to occupy the tracks to prevent any further attempt by the company to remove the coal.

On Friday, the federal judge overseeing the bankruptcy approved a bidding process for the company’s assets. Tennessee-based Contura Energy submitted an initial bid of $20.6 million for Blackjewel’s Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines in Wyoming and Pax Surface Mine in Scarbro, West Virginia.

Contura previously owned the Wyoming mines and sold them to Blackjewel in 2017. Contura itself was created out of the 2015 bankruptcy of Alpha Natural Resources. Other bids will be accepted until Wednesday, with an auction between the bidders held August 15.

A hearing before Judge Frank W. Volk that had been set for Saturday has been moved to the morning of Monday, August 5.

Coal operators play a continuous shell game, forming and declaring bankruptcy to provide a legal cover for robbing workers and their communities of millions in unpaid taxes and other fees while absolving themselves of any costs for the environmental damage they do to the areas they mine.

A host of state and local politicians have visited the site of the Harlan County occupation … most recently US Senate Majority Leader [Republican] Mitch McConnell, who represents Kentucky. …

Far from an ally of miners, McConnell has been instrumental in blocking funding for black lung benefits and healthcare for miners.

Many miners and supporters have pointed to the fact that Harlan County was the center of bloody battles by miners in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s to build the union and secure for miners safer working conditions and a better living standard.

The current resistance of the miners in Kentucky is part of a growing international movement of workers against the attacks of the government and big business. From the wave of teachers’ strikes last year in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma through the strikes by auto parts and other workers in Matamoros, Mexico, to the Yellow Vest protest in France, workers are entering into struggle against attacks on their living conditions.

Kentucky coal miners continue protest as Blackjewel assets auction proceeds: here.

“It’s not just miners, but all blue-collar workers, like the teachers, who have been mistreated too”. Blackjewel miners in Kentucky vow to continue fight against coal operator: here.

HOW A GANG OF ANGRY TEACHERS BEAT KENTUCKY’S TRUMP  No one besides Gov. Matt Bevin himself did more to cement his status as the least-popular Republican governor in the United States than Nema Brewer, the public school employee who sparked Kentucky’s mass mobilization of teachers last year. [HuffPost]

English Durham miners’ gala and Julian Assange

This video from England says about itself:

Saturday the 13th of July 2019 saw the 135th Durham Miners’ Gala – County Durham’s community heritage & working class solidarity in full colour. Congratulations to all involved.

From the World Socialist Web Site in England:

UK: SEP wins support for Julian Assange at Durham Miners’ Gala

By our reporters

15 July 2019

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) took the campaign to free imprisoned WikiLeaks journalist Julian Assange to the 135th Durham Miners’ Gala on Saturday, winning support from former miners, their families and the many workers present.

A section of the crowd at the Durham Miners Gala

The Durham Miners’ Gala is an annual labour movement event. Held for the first time in 1871, it attracts an estimated 200,000 attendees in celebration of the town’s coal mining heritage. It features a banner parade with brass bands, a cathedral service and political speeches. Delegations travel there from across England and abroad, from former mining communities, trade unions and political parties.

Members of the SEP campaign team for Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange at the Gala

SEP campaigners distributed copies of the June 20 call by the World Socialist Web Site, “For a worldwide campaign to prevent Julian Assange’s rendition to the US!” Over 600 copies of the statement were distributed as a four-page colour brochure. More than 20 people signed up to support or join the campaign.

Jim Clark

Jim Clark, a former Durham miner, said, “I’ve been acquainted with the Assange case for many years. He came to prominence with his disclosure of the lies we’re being told. The way information is being suppressed for many decades this comes as no surprise to me. As soon as the ruling class are threatened in any way, they will use whatever power they’ve got—the control over the media, over state institutions—to destroy people. This is what working people have got to realise.”

Asked about the role played by Labour and the trade union bureaucracy, he said, “I’m familiar with the origin and development of the Labour Party in particular. Of course, it was never a socialist party to start with. There were socialists involved in its origination, but the Labour Party is a reformist party. It believes in making little bits of reforms and accepting the few crumbs that are falling from the table. It has never been prepared, even today, to challenge the international power which rests with the financial classes.

The 1984-85 miners’ strike was a threat to the ruling class; the whole power of the state was employed to destroy the miners and the communities and their organisations. It’s the same with journalism. The majority of journalists in the UK are working for press barons such as Murdoch and the Barclay brothers, tax evaders.

“I’m an old-fashioned class warrior and make no apology for it. When Marx was writing about the state in the latter part of the 19th century, the same problems exist today as they did then.” He concluded saying, “You’re doing a great job!”

Derek Richardson at the SEP stall

Derek Richardson, who comes from a mining family, said, “It’s a disgrace that press freedom has been destroyed. There is no press freedom for Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning is back in prison. There were illusions in the Global Conference for Media Freedom, but this was a party-political broadcast for full control of the media by the state.”

Susan Simpson

Susan Simpson is from a mining family in Wakefield. She said, “It is appalling what is happening to Assange. If this happened in a Third World country for exposing the truth, they [Assange and Chelsea Manning] would be celebrated. Did they really need all those police officers to drag him out, when he was clearly ill? It’s one of the biggest travesties ever. There should be more people up in arms.”

Ex-miner John and his wife Linda supported the campaign to free Assange. Linda said, “He’s done nothing wrong but tell the truth! He should be free, it’s Tony Blair that should be behind bars for war crimes.”

John and Linda

David Lindsay, a freelance journalist, said, “Julian Assange must not be extradited anywhere, and Jeremy Corbyn must say so.”

David Lindsay

Barry White, a journalist who represented the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) on the European Federation of Journalists board until 2016, said, “I support the call for Julian Assange to be freed, without a shadow of doubt. What he did was reveal the great injustices, great violence against ordinary people and conspiracies by states against ordinary people. He revealed it and newspapers published it, they were quite happy to take that information.

“You mentioned the Espionage Act charges the Americans want to bring against him. They’ve been planning this for years. There will be no action taken against the newspapers that published the revelations that he made with others. It will be him alone because they want to make an example of people who blow whistles against the rich and powerful and reveal what they are up to.

WikiLeaks revealed a range of abuses that go on behind closed doors, and of course within the institutions of the state, whether they are the judiciary, parliamentary or whatever. There are people who don’t want to be found out, either directly or indirectly by those revelations. It’s those people who should be in the courts, not Julian Assange.

“The media freedom conference was hypocrisy by the British state, a government which seeks to wash its hands of any responsibility for Julian Assange and make sure he’s shipped off to the United States. To then talk about protecting the media is just eye-watering hypocrisy. These people want to protect powerful media owners and not people who reveal some very unsavoury, unpleasant aspects of the society we live in.”

Labour MP Chris Williamson

Labour MP Chris Williamson was asked about his attitude to Assange’s imprisonment. He said, “I’m a big supporter of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. He is the most important journalist in the world right now. We must demand his freedom.

“I was down at the prison to show my solidarity with him, shortly after he had been incarcerated. It brings shame on Great Britain that we’ve treated this really important figure in the way in which we have, when he was thrown out of the Ecuadorian embassy. Frankly, he’s an ill man. I said at the time, he should have been put in the back of an ambulance and given medical treatment rather than being taken to a high-security prison.

“Given the nature of the work he’s been involved with, he has exposed the grotesque abuse of state power by Britain and the US, we must get behind him and show our support for him. That is why we need a socialist government under Jeremy Corbyn, because there would be a very, very different approach to what we are seeing under the present Tory administration.” …

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the rally

UNISON union head Dave Prentice tacked “left”, demanding Trident nuclear submarines are scrapped and the money poured into public services. …

Some of the day’s loudest applause followed National Union of Teachers General Secretary Kevin Courtney’s denunciation of war preparations against Iran. …

Unite union General Secretary Len McCluskey appealed to growing disgust among workers towards the Brexit crisis, saying there was “no solution via Remain or Leave”. He rejected “the culture war” between both camps, calling for a “return to the class struggle.” …

In his own address to the Gala, Corbyn said a Labour government would investigate police violence during the 1984-85 miners’ strike and cited the persecution of the Shrewsbury pickets, jailed in 1972 for industrial action the previous year. …

Corbyn warned that the rise of the far-right as a “very, very serious threat indeed” and won a standing ovation from his colleagues on the platform for attacking anti-Semitism.

UK: Strong support for Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning at Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival: here.

Women of the British miners’ strike, new play

This video from Britain says about itself:

Queens of the Coal Age

18 June 2018

Exchange Associate Artist Maxine Peake writes a powerful new play full of Northern wit about the Women Against Pit Closures who occupied the Parkside Colliery.

By Paul Foley in Britain:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Pitted against injustice

PAUL FOLEY sees an inspiring play by Maxine Peake on the women who battled against the destruction of mining communities in 1984-85 and after

Queens of the Coal Age
Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

ONE of the lasting legacies of the 1984-85 miners’ strike is the liberation of women in mining communities across the country. Grandmothers, mothers, wives and partners of miners recognised this dispute was very different from the struggles of the past — it was a battle for their communities’ very existence.

Via the Women Against Pit Closures movement, they were catapulted into the vanguard of the fightback against a repressive state determined to smash their men and their way of life. There was no going back and, when the strike ended, women carried on the struggle against the relentless closure of mines in the decades that followed.

In 1993, on the eve of the closure of Parkside colliery in Lancashire, four amazing women bluffed their way into the pit and occupied it for four days and Maxine Peake wrote a wonderful radio play celebrating these courageous women which she has now adapted for the stage.

Although a celebration of the women’s bravery, Peake — a very fine playwright as well as a great actor — has not created some misty-eyed, nostalgic look at a bygone era. She has captured the very essence of what drove these women to overcome their fears and head half a mile below ground.

They are no caricatures. Funny, nervous, tense, frightened and constantly squabbling, beneath it all, they are working-class women who care passionately about their families and communities. Giving up on a fight for justice is not an option.

Peake not only draws fully-rounded characters but places the action within the context of the times. Without hitting the audience over the head, she gently introduces the reality of a world where misogyny and petty racism are not uncommon.

Bryony Shanahan’s fine direction keeps the action moving while Georgia Lowe’s stage design is wonderfully evocative of the oppressive and claustrophobic atmosphere that lies deep within the pit. Kate Anthony (Anne), Jane Hazelgrove (Dot), Eve Robertson (Elaine) and Danielle Henry (Lesley) are outstanding as the four women. They have all the pent-up frustrations and anxieties of women under siege yet their humanity and deep-rooted friendship is palpable.

This is our history, our heroes, and it is fitting that their story is brought to life in one of the finest theatres in the country.

Highly recommended.

Runs until July 28, box office:, then transfers to the New Vic, Stoke, from September 7–29, box office:

British Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners honoured in Paris, France

British Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners at London Pride 2015. Photo: David Jones/Creative Commons

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Paris to commemorate Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners founder

PARIS is to honour Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) founder member Mark Ashton, who paved the way for gay rights to be adopted by Britain’s trade unions.

Mark Ashton in 1986 (pic: Johnny Orr/Creative Commons)

The council of the French capital’s fourth arrondissement, a sector which includes the gay village Le Marais, is set to commemorate Mr Ashton as “a role model for young people” after Communist Party councillors proposed a street or public place be named after him.

The former general secretary of Britain’s Young Communist League played a key role in building support for Britain’s striking miners among the gay community during the 1984-1985 dispute.

Deputy mayor Evelyne Zarka, who moved the motion, was inspired after seeing Mr Ashton’s story in the film Pride, which she said made her laugh and cry.

Ms Zarka said it was the action of Mr Ashton and his comrades that had advanced the cause of gay rights, leading to its adoption as policy by the British labour movement.

“His strength, his humanity and his courage make him a source of inspiration. The French Communist Party and especially this part of Paris value highly Mark Ashton and his fight”, she said.

French communists have pledged to preserve Mr Ashton’s memory and would link it to their fights against homophobia and HIV, stressing the importance of connecting struggles.

“I hope our generation will find a way to bring an end to homophobia and HIV in order to give our children a better world to live in”, said Ms Zarka.

Mr Ashton died due to an illness contracted while HIV positive in 1987. He was aged just 26.

FORMER Young Communist League general secretary Mark Ashton has been honoured after a Paris garden was named in his memory earlier this week. The garden of the Hotel-Lamoignon was renamed after the founder of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners — subject of the hit movie Pride — in a ceremony on Tuesday: here.

United States mine disaster Republican’s anti-Chinese racism

This 7 May 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Convicted Criminal Republican Runs Campaign Ad Against ‘Chinapeople’

Republican West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship’s latest political ad has stirred controversy for its use of terms like “China people” and references to Sen. Mitch McConnell as “cocaine Mitch” and his “China family”. Blankenship, who is vying the chance to challenge West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin in November, is already known across his state. He spent a year in federal prison for mine safety violations following the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 miners. Blankenship was CEO of Massey Energy, the company that owned the mine.

Read more here.

British striking miners, still no justice

This English video with Turkish subtitles is the final part of the Pride 2014 movie, last song.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Appeal launched for miners who are still living in poverty

Thursday 26th October 2017

AN APPEAL was launched yesterday to raise funds for miners who remain unemployed after being blacklisted for striking against pit closures in 1984-5.

During the struggle 20,000 miners were injured, 200 served time in prison or custody, two were killed on picket lines and three died digging for waste coal during the winter of ’84-5.

A further 966 were sacked by the employer, the National Coal Board, and blacklisted. Some were local officials of the National Union of Mineworkers, or were simply active on picket lines.

In 1985 the National Justice for Mineworkers (NJM) was launched to help the sacked men and their families.

Today, more than 32 years after the strike ended, dozens still remain blacklisted and without employment.

Ian Johnson, of the NJM, told the Morning Star: “Since 1985 a lot have unfortunately passed away.

“Some have gone abroad because they were blacklisted. Some have not worked since and are still with their families.

“The driving force behind the appeal is to ensure that every sacked miner’s children or grandchildren get presents at Christmas.”

For more than 30 years the NJM campaign was run by Ricky Sumner and his wife Christine, who travelled the country selling mining industry memorabilia to raise funds.

They retired in 2015.

The NJM also allocates money throughout the year to sacked mineworkers facing hardship.

If you wish to donate to the appeal, cheques can be made to National Justice for Mineworkers and sent to 2, Hilden Street, Leigh, Lancashire WN7 4LG. Also see or the Facebook page Justice for Mineworkers.

John Major asked scab union how to break up industry. The Morning Star uncovers memos proving Major, energy minister Tim Eggar and UDM leader Roy Lynk met before British Coal announced that it would axe most of the remaining pits: here.

British miners-LGBTQ solidarity, new book

This video from Britain says about itself:

4 September 2014

Miner’s Wife Interview – Pride Premiere

One of the real life heroes talks to Red Carpet News at the London premiere for new film Pride at the Odeon cinema in Camden.

Pride stars Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Dominic West and Andrew Scott. It is inspired by the real life unlikely union between gay support groups and miners’ unions during the height of the battles with the Thatcher conservative government.

Red Carpet News brings you all the latest Film & Entertainment News.

By Lynne Walsh in Britain:

Proud history of lesbian and gay support for miners’ strike

Thursday 17th August 2017

Pride: The Unlikely Story of the True Heroes of the Miners’ Strike by Tim Tate (John Blake Books, £8.99)

WRITERS often struggle with the personal accounts offered up by those whose stories they are trying to capture.

Memory has been called the greatest myth maker. As diligent as we strive to be — even keeping notes and journals — the archivist in us can be elbowed out by the storyteller.

Anecdotes and tales acquire flourishes, with motivations “clarified” and personalities simplified.

A tough task, then, for author Tim Tate in writing “the inspiring true story” behind the hit film Pride. Not only was he faced with reconciling accounts from some 20 players in this key piece of working-class history but another writer had got there first and splashed the whole damn lot all over the big screen.

In writing the screenplay for the film Pride, Stephen Beresford employed some creative techniques — creating composite figures, portraying some in the mining village of Onllwyn as homophobic and erasing any mention that activist Mark Ashton was a communist.

But his skilful work brought the story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) to a worldwide audience. More than that, it’s inspired more activists in the same mould, especially in support of migrants.

Tate is an investigative journalist by trade. Good choice. He told LGSM and their Welsh comrades from the start that he would not be telling their story. They would.

The book’s format, recollections in the participants’ own words, may seem unsophisticated.

Yet it works, because those words come from people who have never forgotten the events of 1984-85.

There were cultural clashes when the two groups met but LGSM “originals” are delighted that the book can deliver nuances the film didn’t.

As LGSM’s Clive Bradley says: “It’s important to realise that the transformative power of LGSM wasn’t just in one direction.

“It wasn’t just a case of these worthy cosmopolitan Londoners bringing pasta and opera to the remote valleys. These were communities that had generations of miners who had a radical tradition and they didn’t need lefties from London to tell them about all this stuff.”

What resonates in the voices the book captures is the realisation that any differences were never going to stop these groups from fighting a common enemy. It was political synergy that bonded them.

Dave Lewis, another LGSM “original,” says in the concluding pages: “If anyone reading this still believes that the British state is liberal, plural, benign or paternal, please look and see just how that state machine was treating the striking miners in 1984.

“And then take our story with you into future battles — because you need to know what you’re up against in order to stand a chance at victory.”

And so say all of us.

Durham Miners Gala in England, report

This 8 July 2017 video from England says about itself:

Durham Miner’s Gala 2017

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

A Gala to go down in history

Monday 10th July 2017

The mood was buoyant and banners were held high at Durham at the weekend. PETER LAZENBY reports

THEY came in their tens of thousands. The 133rd Durham Miners’ Gala was a celebration, not just of the culture and solidarity of the region’s former coal mining communities, but also of the changed political climate since Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party shattered the hopes of Theresa May and the Tories of achieving a landslide majority in June’s general election, leaving them with an enfeebled government dependent on the right-wing fringe Democratic Unionist Party to cling to power.

The mood at the Gala on Saturday reflected new confidence — and new hope — for the future.

Trade union banners were marched down the traditional route from Durham’s historic market place, past the County Hotel, where speakers and guests looked on from the balcony. Many banners were led by bands. Thousands of onlookers lined the streets, applauding each banner and band.

There was a change from tradition. Each band usually pauses to play a “party piece” beneath the balcony before moving on followed by banners and supporters the quarter mile to the field where the Gala — the “Big Meeting” — is held.

So huge has the march become that organisers from the Durham Miners’ Association had limited the performance of party pieces to every other band, to cut down on the time spent.

The march began at 8.30am. The platform speakers and guests filed into place on the platform overlooking the Gala field at 12.30.

As they did so the banners, bands and supporters were still arriving, four hours after the march had begun — and they kept pouring in as the speeches began. An hour later they were still arriving.

The field was packed with people — more than in any recent year, and last year there were an estimated 150,000.

The speakers were rousing. Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack spoke movingly of his members’ actions in going into Grenfell Tower to rescue residents from the conflagration. His speech brought the crowd to its feet.

Tributes were paid to the late Durham Miners’ Association general secretary Dave Hopper, who died one week after last year’s Gala.

Hopper had been the driving force, along with the late DMA president Dave Guy, in keeping the Gala going after the last pit in the Durham coalfield closed in 1993 — 24 years ago. And still the Gala grows.

Jeremy Corbyn was given a rapturous welcome. When the speeches were over the celebrations continued.

Three banners with their bands were marched from the gala field to Durham Cathedral, an uphill walk in blazing sunshine. These were newly created banners representing former mining communities — Pelton Fell, Trimdon Colliery and South Moor.

Newly discovered or recreated banners are blessed by the Bishop of Durham after their first appearance at the Gala.

The banners are marched into the historic cathedral, the rafters echoing to the sound of the brass bands.

Back on the Gala field, the other banners and bands were being marched off with as much ceremony as they had arrived.

As they reached the County Hotel the crowd had not thinned, still densely lining the street.

Guests were on the balcony again and many bands — perhaps those which had not played on the march to the field — paused to play below, some prompting singing by the crowd.

Imagine 2,000 or more voices joining in with the chorus of Don’t Look Back in Anger with the words “Oh, Sally can wait.”

The Tursdale banner carried the iconic image of a police cavalry officer swinging a baton at photographer Leslie Bolton — a scene from the police attack at Orgreave.

But the creator of the banner had also introduced the image of a miner, protecting a baby in his arms, as an additional target for the baton.

The tops of several pit lodge banners were decked with black ribbon, mining communities’ traditional way of mourning a death. In this case they were mourning Hopper.

Tributes had been paid to Hopper by speakers at the Gala field. But the mood on the street as the banners and bands returned was light-hearted.

One mining banner was led by five very young children — aged maybe four to 10. They were dressed in the traditional orange overalls worn by miners, their faces and overalls besmirched with dirt. They wore protective miners’ helmets.

Beneath the balcony they danced to a tune played by the band. The banner-carriers “danced” their banner up and down in rhythm.

By now Jeremy Corbyn was back on the balcony. He began to dance and clap. There were cheers.

Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign marchers were applauded, as were the International Brigades and others.

There were banners from other unions and campaigns.

The non-mining banners, and the political placards carried by some marchers, brought applause and sometimes laughter.

One group carried a huge, signed birthday card saying: “Happy Birthday NHS” which was cheered by the crowd.

One marcher, wearing a Theresa May mask, carried a placard saying “Minority of Malevolence”.

Corbyn’s presence back on the balcony inevitably led to spontaneous outbursts of the “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” sing-song chant which first manifested itself during a rock concert at Tranmere Rovers football ground before the general election.

The last banners and bands passed the County Hotel, they wended their way through the densely packed crowds which thronged the streets, heading for the dozens of coaches which had brought them to Durham for Europe’s biggest annual celebration of the labour and trade union movement.

Big workers’ rally, Durham, England tomorrow

This video from England says about itself:

30 June 2017

Saturday 8 July 2017 will be the 133rd Durham Miners Gala. The Gala is now one of the biggest and most colourful celebration of trade union solidarity and community spirit.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

(Almost PM) Corbyn returns to ever-swelling Miners’ Gala

Friday 7th July 2017

A RECORD crowd is expected tomorrow at the 133rd annual Durham Miners’ Gala after last year’s event drew in 150,000 people.

More supporters are set to join Europe’s biggest celebration of the labour and trade union movement following the Labour Party’s success in whittling down the Tory government’s slim majority in the snap election last month.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will be one of six speakers at the event. He will be joined by film director Ken Loach, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, Unite general secretary Len McLuskey, Prison Officers’ Association general secretary Steve Gillan and Unison northern regional secretary Clare Williams.

The event will be tinged with sadness due to the death of Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) general secretary Dave Hopper. He died one week after last year’s Gala.

In this year’s Gala programme, the new DMA secretary Alan Cummings paid tribute to the “longest serving general secretary in the DMA’s 148-year history.

“For 31 years he led our union and will be sadly missed in Durham and the wider movement,” he wrote.

“It is particularly sad that he did not live to see the monumental triumph of his friend and comrade Jeremy Corbyn in the recent general election.”

The gala starts at 8.30am with a march through Durham showcasing up to 100 trade union banners, many accompanied by bands, followed by the “Big Meeting” on the Gala field.

Four new Durham miners’ banners will later be marched to the city’s cathedral to be blessed by the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler.

Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners memorial in London

This video from Britain says about itself:

In memory of Mark Ashton

11 February 2017

Mark Ashton *19.05.1960 – †11.02.1987

Jimmy Somerville “Don´t Leave Me This Way”

Live And Acoustic At Stella Polaris (Copenhagen 02.08.15)

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Memorial to LGSM hero to be unveiled

Friday 19th May 2017

A PLAQUE will be unveiled today in memory of a Young Communist who in 1984 co-founded Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), the subject of the film Pride.

Mark Ashton was secretary of the Young Communist League. He died of Aids in 1987, aged just 26.

He and friends at Gay’s the Word bookshop in London established links with mining communities in south Wales during the epic strike against pit closures of 1984-85.

They carried out bucket collections in London’s gay bars and clubs, raising about £20,000 in aid of Welsh mining communities.

LGSM decided that the bookshop in Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury, would be the perfect location for a plaque celebrating Mark’s life and work.

Tomorrow’s unveiling will take place on what would have been his 57th birthday.

LGSM, which was targeted by the right-wing [Rupert Murdoch] media with the headline “Pits and Perverts”, staged a hugely successful fundraising concert under the same name.

Pits and Perverts solidarity concert in London poster

Co-founder Mike Jackson said: “To this day, Mark’s loss remains deeply felt by so many family members and friends.

“Driven, principled and charismatic, Mark would have achieved so much more if he had not died so young.

“We are so proud to now be installing a permanent memorial to our lost friend. Solidarity forever!

LGSM pin