On the second day of RMT action for pay and conditions for rank and file railway staff Arthur Scargill moved on to Sheffield picket line along with his grandson. ITV were there to interview him.
Arthur Scargill speaking at an RMT Picket Line outside Sheffield Midland Railway Station said the RMT strike can succeed because their case is just.
Speaking to students on the Picket Line he said the support by young people like the students from Universities in Sheffield remind him of the way in which the NUM had to take strike action over the past 50 years.
In 1969 NUM members took unofficial strike action to demand that surface workers should have an 8 hour day succeeded after a 3 week strike.
In 1972 miners had to take strike action again as they fought for a substantial wage claim and better conditions. The strike started in January 1972 and after weeks of conflict including the famous Battle of Saltley Gate in Birmingham which saw the people and trade unions taking strike action and bringing Birmingham to a standstill the Gate was closed, the Government surrendered and the NUM won.
In 1974 the NUM had to take strike action against the Social Contract which tried to force a wage freeze. The Miners not only won an historic victory but forced a general election which saw the defeat of the Heath Tory Government.
In 1981 miners again took unofficial strike action which was won following an agreement with the Thatcher Government - it succeeded by determined trade union action.
In 1984/5 the NUM commenced the longest national strike ever seen in the U.K. It witnessed the famous Battle of 0rgreave and miners could have won if other trade unions had supported the strike as they had done in the unofficial strike in 1981.
The greatest victory in 1984/5 was the struggle itself as is now recognised by the release of Government papers which prove that our fight was not with the National Coal Board but with the Government using paramilitary tactics which have still have to be explained.
The last miners’ strike led by Arthur Scargill was in 1999 when the NUM took action against the privatised RJB Mining company. Historians overlook this strike which succeeded in winning a £20 a week increase for coal face workers and percentage increases for all other grades. Most important of all RJB Mining had to agree for the following 5 Years there would be an increase for miners based on the increase in the Retail Prices Index.
Trade Unions are essential to protect British workers. UK governments over the past 50 years have been quick to support strikes in East European countries whilst introducing unlawful legislation designed to prevent strikes in the UK. The right to Strike is a fundamental United Nations and ILO law and must be upheld in the United Kingdom.
If legislation is introduced which allows Companies to sack who they want and bring in Agency workers thenTrade Unions should implement a policy of Non-Compliance.
President NUM 1982-2002
Leader Socialist Labour Party