The Miners Strike

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Early problems of the Coal Industry in 1970's

Strikes over pay happened in January 1972 and in 1974 and coal was essential in the 1970's and the strike meant no coal was being mined, transported or imported. Also it was winter at the time of the strikes so coal was even more important. 

The government imposed a 3 day week to save power which shows the strike was a major concern for the country.

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Why problems were becoming more serious after 1979

  • Conservatives were back in power so they made it a bigger problem than what it was.
  • It cost more to get coal out of the ground than it was worth as fuel
  • Margaret Thatcher had gained popularity and authority through victory in the Falklands War in 1982 which meant the public sided with her more than the miners.
  • Coal mining was in trouble - oil, gas and coal were cheaper from abroad so they didn't need their coal.
  • On 1st March 1984, a plan was announced to close 20 pits with the loss of 20,000 jobs which  meant they were more determined to strike. 
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Actions by Conservative government and the NUM 197

Government :

  • Passed several laws reducing Trade Union rights
  • Thatcher stockpiled coal
  • Used legal power to fine them and freeze their assets
  • Brought in police from all over the country to build up police presence in strike areas
  • Used MI5
  • Government gave media information on NUM corruption


  • They called out a national strike
  • NUM gave out badges and leaflets to spread information and raise funds
  • Put pressure on all miners to join the pickets
  • Had links between other groups giving them a lot of support from popular countries
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Issue of National Ballot

No national ballot means no one could vote against it.

Government made it illegal to not have a national ballot so could fine strikers easily.

Majority of the public sided against them as they were unhappy with their undemocratic process.

Many other unions were unhappy with the lack of a national ballot and refused to support the strike. 

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Why problems between police and strikers led to vi

Police were always armed with weapons. 

Police were used to prevent strikes from travelling between strike areas by using roadblocks - this angered strikers.

Police hit the strikers with truncheons and kicked people to the ground - this caused strikers to retaliate and stick up for eachother.

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How the miners strike developed

On 1st March 1984, the plan announced to close 20 pits with the loss of 20,000 jobs caused Arthur Scargill (leader of the NUM) to persuade the rest of the NUM leadership to begin a national strike. 

 Margaret Thatcher - Thatcher's government was determined to defeat miners and portrayed struggle as another war, like Falklands. - Giving into miners would be surrendering the rule of parliamentary democracy to the 'rule of the mob'.

Arthur Scargill (NUM leader) - New laws stated it was illegal not to ballot workers before a strike.  Scargill argued different areas had already voted for a strike and a ballot was not needed. - many miners unhappy with undemocratic prcess.

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Main Events

  • 18th June 1984 - Battle of Orgreave
  • 11th August 1984 - WACPO held its first demonstration in London
  • 28th September 1984 - NACODS voted to go on strike
  • 17th October 1984 - Called for strike on 
  • 25th October 1984 - But it was called off
  • 1st December 1984 - Strking miners caused manslaughter of taxi driver in South Wales, driving a miner to work
  • 7th January 1985 - NCB claimed 1,200 miners returned to work
  • 13th February 1985 - High Court banned all mass pickets in Yorkshire
  • 28th February 1985 - Ian McGregor (head of NCB) announed all sacked miners won't be re-employed
  • 2nd March 1985 - Yorkshire miners voted to continue strike
  • 3rd March 1985 - NUM voted 98 to 91 for a return to work
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Why the strike was immediately called off and afte

After 51 weeks, the NUM voted 98 to 91 to return to work despite pleas by Arthur Scargill.

Aftermath - The strikers and their families were in poverty as the result of no wages and reduced state benefits for a year.

Most pits in Nottinghamshire were closed in the years 1985 to 1994 even though the Conservative government promised to keep them open. 

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Keywords of the Miners Strike

  • Picket Line - Where strikers stand outside place of work to persuade others to not go in
  • Scabs - Workers who didn't join the strike
  • National Strike - Strike throughout the country
  • National Ballot - National vote of union members to decide if a strike should be held
  • Solidarity - Willingness to support eachother
  • Ostracised - Rejected
  • Flying Picket - Strikers from different areas brought in on coaches to picket line of mines that was striking. Made good image of support for TV and newspapers etc. 
  • NACODS - National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers
  • WAPC - Women Against Pit Closures
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Battle of Orgreave

18th June 1984 outside the Orgreave Coking Plant in South Yorkshire - most publicised scenes showed violence between police and picketers.  TV showed strikers throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at police who then retaliated with a mass charge on the pickets.  Coverage badly supported miners and media increasingly attacked the miners and the strike.  NUM area leaders decided to call of further mass pickets.

BBC later admitted order of events had been reversed as the real footage showed the mounted police attacked a peaceful picket line first and inflicted serious injuries upon several pickets, with the miners only then fighting back.

Now agreed that police overreacted to the situation at Orgreave.  Number of injured pickets was double that of injured police.

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