This was the most bitterly contested dispute, in modern history. Following the defeat of the miners, the government embarked on the systematic, destruction of British industry, which made us what we are today.
A NATION OF SHOPKEEPERS
THE NATIONAL Justice for Mineworkers Campaign was formed at the 1985 Labour Conference in the aftermath of the 1984/85 Miners' strike and was launched at the Albert Hall, London, in October 1986.
During the strike 20,000 people were injured or hospitalized (including NUM President Arthur Scargill). 200 served time in prison or custody. Two were killed on picket lines, three died digging for coal during the winter and 966 were sacked.
The objectives of the campaign from its beginning were to keep the issue of those victimised miners to the forefront of the labour and trade union movement and to raise money to alleviate hardship among the families of the victimised. The Justice Campaign is supported by Labour Party and TUC conferences and many national and regional unions.
After the return to work on 5th March 1985 the Tories wreaked havoc, not just on the mining industry, but also on the civil rights of the 966 miners who had been sacked during the strike by refusing to let them return to their rightful place of work.
Many of the men were sacked simply for being union activists yet this was one of the most principled strikes ever, a strike not for money, but for jobs, in which 55 year old men went without their livelihood for a years Remember, 966 men were originally sacked for no more than honouring picket lines, defending their jobs and pit communities, their class and the future of their children. Only a small number of miners had been dismissed for offenses against the person or damage to property. Indeed, many miners since cleared by the courts were not re-instated and neither were many more who successfully won their cases for unfair dismissal at industrial tribunals. Of those who were classified as sacked few had their jobs back with British Coal. Many were even blacklisted from getting any work outside the coal industry.
Many of those sacked were active branch officials and, we contend, were clear victims of British Coal's attempts to stifle them, to remove them from the industry and thereby reduce the effectiveness of the NUM as a trade union. Some branch activists were even sacked after the return to work on 5th March 1985. Those they couldn't get during the strike they made certain they got afterwards.
so that a 25 year old and his family might have a job with a future to look forward to.
Wapping with 6,000, P&O with 1,000 were just the most notable and matters culminated with the sacking of Civil Service trade union members at GCHQ, Cheltenham, for merely belonging to a trade union.
If anyone has forgotten what the 1984/85 miners' strike was all about, let just one sobering fact sink in for a moment or two – at the beginning of the strike there were 170 coal mines in Britain. By the end of 2003 there were just 15 pits left – no, that's not a misprint: there are just 15 pits left in the whole of Britain!
Remember, the 966 men who were sacked during that strike set off a chain reaction of similar victimization of trade unionists after a deliberately provoked strike.