The miners' strike 1984-5

Submitted by Anon on 6 March, 2004 - 8:46

The events

1 July: Leon Brittan endorses the use of Criminal Law rather than Civil Law against the miners.
5 July: National Coal Board and NUM talks.
6 July: Management visits NUM members at home encouraging them back to work.
8 July: High Court declares NUM Annual Conference unlawful.
National dock strike called against the movement of coal.
The dock strike

The most dramatic point in the struggle to broaden the strike came on 9 July when the dockers came out on strike. Dockers today are many many times smaller in number and weaker in organisation than they were in 1984. At the time of the miners' strike they were feeling the first attacks on their jobs, the result of structural changes in the industry.

On the docks, as in the mines, the basic issue was jobs. Here were ready-made fellow-fighters for the miners. And dockers had the power to close down Britain very quickly. Within weeks of a solid docks strike the Tories would either have to surrender or use troops - and that would have escalated the conflict further.

The dockers' leaders, whatever good intentions they may have had, bungled the fight.

When the strike was on we called for the creation of joint action committees of dockers and miners. But the NUM did not make much initiative to link up. The TGWU were protesting that their dispute was quite separate from the miners'.

On 19 July anti-strike lorry drivers threatened violence against dockers in Dover and the dispute collapsed. Instead of organising flying pickets the TGWU crumbled.

In July and again in August-September when there was a second docks strike the TGWU did not put forward any precise demands for the strike. Nobody believed that this strike had nothing to do with the miners. Least of all the dockers whose solidarity with the miners had triggered the dispute. Many other dockers - men who could have been won to a fight which linked their own threatened jobs to the miners' fight for jobs - felt they were being manipulated.

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