Going on strike should be regarded as “an individual human right” and not be subject to a trade union vote, Wansbeck MP and former president of the mineworkers’ union Ian Lavery has said.
The Northumberland MP, who considered standing for the Labour Party leadership, predicts mass “civil disobedience” in the UK if the Government presses ahead with radical changes to trade union law.
The Conservatives want to bring in a 50% threshold that would see half of a union’s membership having to vote for a strike to be legitimate.
But former NUM chief Mr Lavery said pushing it through the legislation was a risk, adding: “This is a pure and utter attack on the trade union movement and an attack on workers.
“If the legislation proceeds through Parliament then I can see the trade unions ignoring it.”
He added: “I can see industrial action on a huge scale.”
Asked if he foresaw an era of wildcat strikes, he said: “I think it could be more serious than that. I think we could see civil disobedience.
Labour Party leaders and union chiefs who did not support the miners’ strike in the 1980s helped weaken the movement, a miners’ leader says.
Thousands of people will flock to Durham City on Saturday (July 12) for the 130th Durham Miners’ Gala, which marks 30 years since the start of the bitter dispute.
In his programme notes, Dave Hopper, general secretary of Gala organisers the Durham Miners’Association, says declassified documents reveal that the Thatcher Government was determined “to butcher the coalfields and smash the National Union of Mineworkers.”
He praises politicians and unions who supported the strike.
But he continues:“At the same time, these revelations should shame those trade unions and Labour Party leaders who did not support our strike.
“Those who refused to come to our aid bear a huge responsibility, not just for our defeat, but for weakening the whole trade union movement.
“They will be remembered in the former coalfield of Britain just as we remember those so-called leaders who betrayed the 1926 General Strike.
“The refusal of New Labour, during 13 years of government, to repeal the anti-trade union legislation, which was used to defeat us, only compounds their shame.”
Five new banners will be on display at the Gala – Fenhall Drift Mine, Lanchester; St Hilda Colliery, South Shields; New Brancepeth Colliery, County Durham; a UNITE Community Membership Banner and West Rainton Primary School’s Adventure Pit banner.
The parade through the city to the racecourse will start at about 8.30am.
There will be a funfair, various stalls and entertainment, including folk singer Benny Graham, on the field throughout the day.
Speeches will be made between 12.15pm and 2.30pm.
The speakers are Bolsover Labour MP Dennis Skinner, Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, Prison Officers Association general secretary Steve Gillan, NUT general secretary Christine Blower, and Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF.
Mr Hopper says Labour leader Ed Miliband was “sounded out” about attending the Gala, but nothing had been heard from him.
The blessing of banners service in Durham Cathedral starts at 3pm.
Delegations from Germany, Ukraine and Ireland are expected to attend.
Details, including events marking the strike anniversary, are at http://www.durhamminers.org
Source – Durham Times, 10 July 2014
A reunion aims to bring together former picketing pitmen as they remember the strike 30 years on.
Durham Miners’ Association is inviting its friends and supporters, particularly those who took part in the industrial action, to gather at its headquarters in Red Hill, Durham, to “renew old friendships and celebrate the spirit that endured a year long battle”.
The gathering will be held on Saturday.
Three decades on, the hostilities generated between the miners and the authorities remain an issue.
Its general secretary Dave Hopper said: “The recent release of the Thatcher Government’s Cabinet papers has exposed the falsehoods and deceit used to defeat the miners’ strike of 1984/85.
“Now everyone knows that Thatcher deliberately lied about the full extent of her pit closure programme and was so determined to butcher the coal industry and smash the National Union of Mineworkers that she was even preparing to use the army to break the strike.
“None of this, of course, will shock our mining communities, which fought so bravely to resist the Tory onslaught.
“We thank those unions and members of the labour movement and all who gave us unstinting and invaluable help.
“At the same time, these revelations should shame those trade union and Labour Party leaders who did not support our cause.
“Those who refused to come to our aid bear a huge responsibility, not just for our defeat, but also for weakening the whole trade union movement.
“They will be remembered in the former coalfields of Britain just as we remember those so-called leaders who betrayed the 1926 General Strike.
“The refusal of ‘New Labour’, during 13 years of government, to repeal the anti-trade union legislation, which was used to defeat us, only compounds their shame.
“Now we have to fight, with a weakened trade union movement, against draconian Tory-Liberal austerity measures which are impoverishing working people while the rich, who caused the economic crisis, have doubled their wealth since 2008.
“We need the fighting spirit which sustained us through that year-long strike more than ever because the fight for our communities which started in 1984 is still ongoing.
“I hope everyone will come on Saturday 21st and have a great time.”
The event will include refreshments and folk music performances, with a marquee to be set up in the grounds of the association’s base.
For more details visit http://www.durhamminers.org
Source – Sunderland Echo, 19 June 2014
The group’s first motion this morning (19 May), proposed by Mandy Priest of DWP Dorset branch and seconded by Glasgow benefit centre branch, opposed the “implementation of a system based on punishment”.
> The “implementation” ? Bit late opposing the implemention – its been with us for several years ! As PCS’ DWP members must be aware.
The motion also said the “widest possible campaign across the trade union movement” was needed to defeat the government’s attacks on benefit claimants.
> The government’s attacks, certainly. But it’s DWP staff who implement them.
Gerry McMahon from Glasgow benefit centre branch said: “The welfare state has been under attack in Britain for many years. Huge cuts have been made that make life on benefits much harder.”
Gerry highlighted the fact that a group of religious leaders have said that hunger is now a national crisis and said our union needs to take up its welfare campaign “like never before“.
Nick Parker, from our Lincolnshire and Rutland branch, called for a united campaign involving “as many people as possible to defeat attacks on welfare”.
Tony Church, speaking on behalf of the group executive, said: “In the 90s John Major, the Tory prime minister, said we were living in a classless society. It was a lie then it’s a lie now. The current coalition goverment is probably the most divided ever.”
He said that welfare reform was just another name for screw the poor.
The motion instructed conference to campaign for:
- Fair, decent levels of benefit
- The repeal of the Bedroom Tax and benefit cap
- A mass council house building scheme
- The abolition of the work capability assessment
- The abolition of workfare and removal of the sanctions regime
- A publicly-run, fair and decent social security system as part of a welfare state based on people’s needs.
The motion was passed unanimously.
> Fine words. But will PCS DWP members refuse to sanction people ? Not send people to workfare ? They could make a start, right now. They probably wont, though.
Source – PCS Union website, 19 May 2014