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A study of the factors contributing to the failure of the miners strike

  • If legislated, the voting process in South Africa should be chaired by an independent electoral body like the Independent Electoral Commission IEC 36 or an authorised independent agent;
  • Any conduct of that nature seriously undermines the fundamental values upon which the Constitution was founded;
  • The question was whether the conduct of the employees in leaving the place of employment constituted a strike;
  • This has since been withdrawn from the Labour Relations Amendment Act of 2014;
  • Rights arbitration involves the arbitration of disputes concerning the interpretation of an existing collective agreement.

Introduction Collections Selected links Photographs The miners' strike of 1984-1985 was one of the most bitter industrial disputes Britain has ever seen. The year-long strike involved hardship and violence as pit communities from South Wales to Scotland fought to retain their local collieries - for many the only source of employment.

The catalyst for the strike was the announcement by the National Coal Board NCB on 6th March 1984 that it intended to cut national capacity by 4 million tonnes and close 20 pits with the loss of 20,000 jobs. Cortonwood Colliery in South Yorkshire was to close imminently. The decision to strike was technically illegal, as there had been no national ballot of NUM members, even though the Nottinghamshire and Midlands Coalfields for example, had called for a national ballot.

  • Any conduct of that nature seriously undermines the fundamental values upon which the Constitution was founded;
  • A ballot before a protected strike not only ensures transparency and fairness, but will ensure that strikes and pickets are taken seriously, and not just seen as the actions of uncivilised hooligans because of the current concomitant damage to property, intimidation of people, and even, in some cases, deaths;
  • The partial or complete concerted refusal to work, or the retardation of work, by persons who are or have been employed by the same employer or by different employers, for the purpose of remedying a grievance or resolving a dispute in respect of any matter of mutual interest between employer and employees, and every reference to 'work' in this definition includes overtime work, whether it is voluntary or compulsory;
  • The employees will feel confident that the dispute will be resolved if there is evidence that the employer is not doing normal business - an indication of economic harm to the employer;
  • She instituted an action for damages against SATAWU alleging that the people who victimised her were members of the union.

Britain was to witness a fierce, hard fought battle involving the government, police, press, and the NUM. Bitter disputes still remain over the tactics all parties used; the use of the Metropolitan Police in local mining villages, accusations of biased press coverage, flying pickets used to discourage strike breakers or 'scabs' as they were known in mining communities from working.

As the demonstrating increased, spreading to other economic targets, there were violent confrontations between pickets and police.

A key confrontation occurred in the 'Battle of Orgreave' when one mass picket on 18th June 1984 was 10,000 strong and the pickets were met with police in riot gear, police horses and dogs.

Miners' Strike 1984-1985

The strike also saw the holding of mass meetings and great marches as for example in Mansfield in May 1984, when dockers and railway workers joined miners and their families. However, opinion was divided in the face of picket line violence and tragedies which occurred, for example the death of one flying picket outside Ollerton Colliery and in South Wales where David Wilkie, a taxi driver, died taking two 'scab' miners to work at Merthyr Vale Colliery, when a concrete post was dropped from a bridge onto his car.

An important source of support for the miners came from within their own communities, particularly from the women. Locally they set up Women's Action Groups through which they organised soup kitchens, distributed food parcels and organised Christmas appeals for miners' families.

The women also actively joined picket lines, were involved in confrontations with the police and travelled the country speaking at political meetings.

  • Therefore, it is anticipated that the FWC would suspend industrial action on this basis;
  • A summary of britain during the inter-war years 1919-1938 made up of miners, rail workers, and other transport workers began the strike,;
  • The strike also saw the holding of mass meetings and great marches as for example in Mansfield in May 1984, when dockers and railway workers joined miners and their families;
  • Experience has shown that violence most often occurs when non-striking workers and strikers come into contact with each other in a heated labour dispute;
  • An optimization of mining sequence along strike and for panel longwall-mining -induced wellbore deformation or failure could have a significant prior studies have examined the stability of wells piercing longwall stratigraphic conditions are key factors affecting the stability of the hydrocarbon wells.

International support was also evident as lorries brought Christmas toys for striking miners' children from Germany, Belgium and France and some children went abroad to spend Christmas holidays in Europe. There was much support in the mining communities of South Wales for the strike, including miners from the 28 pits in the South Wales Coalfield, and the Area Strike Committees that covered several pits organised picketing. Other direct action was also taken as, for example, at Port Talbot Steelworks when 100 miners from South Wales occupied three cranes 120ft high.

By January 1985, the strike was beginning to disintegrate as miners facing increasing financial hardship, returned to work in increasing numbers. The NCB had offered incentives to return to work before Christmas.

A study of the factors contributing to the failure of the miners strike

The NUM had failed to gain support from other key industrial trade unions and Nottinghamshire were threatening to form a separate breakaway union which they later did, forming the Union of Democratic Mineworkers.

Consequently on 3rd March 1985, a year from the start of the strike, the NUM's National Executive voted 98-91 in favour of an organised return to work. The miners returned to work defeated but not broken as they defiantly walked behind colliery bands and lodge banners, and alongside the women and children who had provided them with such immense support.

Reproduced by kind permission of the People's History Museum.

  1. The aim of a strike is to persuade the employer, through peaceful withdrawal of labour, to agree to the employees' demands.
  2. A key confrontation occurred in the 'Battle of Orgreave' when one mass picket on 18th June 1984 was 10,000 strong and the pickets were met with police in riot gear, police horses and dogs. Kluwer International 2002 at 293.
  3. However, the fact that a labour court may suspend a strike, may be abused by employers during long strikes because there is no prescribed period beyond which a strike may not extend.