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Appendix I – The 1984 Miners' Strike

The miners' strike of 1984 – 1985 was a major industrial action affecting the British coal industry. It was a defining moment in British industrial relations, and significantly weakened the British trades union movement.

 

Coal was a nationalised industry and, as in most of Europe, was heavily subsidised. A number of mines in the United Kingdom were profitable and remained open after the strike, including some operating as of 2007[1], but there were also a number of mines that were unprofitable and the government wanted to close. In addition, many mines required efficiency improvements in order to attain or increase their profitability, which was to be done by means of increased mechanisation. Many unions resisted this as it would necessarily result in job losses.

The strike became a symbolic struggle, since the miners' union was one of the strongest in the country. The strike ended with the defeat of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) by the Conservative government, which then proceeded to consolidate its free market programme. The political power of the NUM was broken permanently, and some years later the Labour Party moved away from its traditional socialist agenda. The dispute exposed deep divisions in British society and caused considerable bitterness, especially in Northern England and in South Wales where several mining communities were destroyed. Ten deaths resulted from events around the strike, which is exceptional in the history of British industrial relations.

 

See also http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/uk/2004/miners_strike/default.stm

 

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