TRIBUTE TO SOUTH DERBYSHIRE MINERS
We gather here today to pay tribute to South Derbyshire miners.
We honour those who over the generations fought to build and sustain their trade union.
In just a few months, we will see the 40th Anniversary of the miners’ strike of 1984/85, a historic struggle which drew support from all around the world, in which the Thatcher Government tried to destroy the National Union of Mineworkers. In the aftermath of the strike, South Derbyshire was a key battleground.
It would be remiss of me, not only as former NUM President but as President of the International Energy and Mineworkers’ Organisation, the IEMO, not to mention how the NUM in South Derbyshire was sustained in that traumatic time.
Following the creation of the breakaway UDM in 1985, the NUM faced two challenges in this Area. First, to compel the National Coal Board to deduct NUM contributions from NUM members to pay to the NUM. Kevin Richards and other NUM Officials including the Chairman today, Paul Liversuch, who became Area President, did a magnificent job in sustaining the NUM membership.
Sources such as Wikipedia state that the NUM South Derbyshire miners (NOT the NUM Area) voted by a split ballot decision to merge with the Leicester breakaway UDM --- NOT TRUE. Over half the South Derbyshire miners who had been members of the South Derbyshire Area continued as an Area of the NUM, electing Kevin Richards as Area Secretary.
During this turbulent period, the Area Union had no office – and therefore the IEMO, or the IMO as it was then, purchased 62 Alexandra Road, Swadlincote, for the benefit of the NUM South Derbyshire.
I was proud that the IMO was able to give that support to the NUM membership in this Area.
As we meet today to honour mineworkers who went before us, others around the UK and the world are gathering in support of the Palestinian people.
I can tell you as President of the IEMO that alongside my political party, the Socialist Labour Party, we have condemned the fascist state of Israel which illegally occupies land which belongs to the various peoples of Palestine.
References made by the media to the invasion by Hamas into Israel on 7 October are misleading – in that Gaza, and the West Bank, and East Jerusalem are unlawfully occupied by Israel, and people in an occupied state will campaign and fight for their freedom.
The Polish Jews, for example, trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto, broke out and fought against the occupation by the German Nazi Army.
The slaughter which Israel is now committing in Gaza, and on the West Bank, has been condemned by the United Nations Security Council with the exception of one vote – the United States.
Earlier this week, the UN General Assembly voted by 153 votes for a ceasefire, with 23 abstentions and only 10 votes against: among those 10 were Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States.
It seems the United States has forgotten that when they were occupied by the British they rose up and fought for independence – and were right to do so.
The IEMO and Socialist Labour Party have called for a ceasefire in Gaza – which must lead sooner rather than later to the end of Israel’s occupation and the liberation of Palestine.
Israel’s leaders should be tried for war crimes and genocide by the International Criminal Court.
Just as the struggle of the miners became an international cause in 1984/85, the struggle of the Palestinians is our struggle too.
16 December 2023