The events of the 1984-85 miners’ strike


1 September Ian MacGregor takes over as NCB chairman

27 September NUM submits annual pay claim

29 September NCB turns down pay claim

1 October Special NUM delegate conference votes for overtime ban against pit closures and 5.2% pay offer

l31 October Start of national overtime ban

lNovember NCB confirms 49 pits will close due to ‘exhausted reserves’1984

23 January NCB says 19,000 sent home due to overtime ban. Many local disputes ensue

l 0 February Scottish NUM leaders reject call for all-out strike over threatened closures in Scotland, although backing given to Polmaise strike

l1 March Closure of Cortonwood pit announced, with five years’ production still to go. 55,000 Yorkshire miners called out on strike under Rule 41 from a ballot result in 1981

5 March Yorkshire NUM calls total stoppage from 12 March

6 March Scottish area NUM calls strike from 9 March. NCB announces cutback of another four million tonnes coal production

8 March NUM national executive declares strikes in Yorkshire and Scotland official, and any other area ‘which takes similar action’

12 March Strike solid in Yorkshire, Kent, South Wales and Scotland

14 March NCB obtains High Court injunction instructing Yorkshire NUM to call off pickets. It is ignored

Police drafted in to mining areas from 21 of the 43 police forces in Britain

15 March David Jones, aged 24, killed at Ollerton, while picketing. Notts area leaders call Notts miners outl 18 March Massive police operation starts. Up to 8,000 police are sent to the Nottingham coalfield

19 March Sections of Notts miners say they will carry on working

l20 March Kent miners lose legal action against police roadblocks at Dartford Tunnel

l22 March Power union leaders advise members to cross picket lines

l23 March Police seal off all of Nottinghamshire

26 March NUM leaders tell right-wing TUC leaders to stay out of the strike

Nacods vote to accept pay offer

27 March Secret gathering of right-wing NUM leaders issue call through media for a national ballot, end of flying pickets and return to work

3 April National Union of Railwaymen tells members to block movements of coal

First soup kitchens open in the coalfields

11 April Nacods vote by 7,638 to 6,661 in favour of strike but this does not reach the union’s required two-thirds majority

12 April Labour leader Neil Kinnock calls for a national ballot

19 April NUM special delegate conference supports action in all British coalfields. Resolutions for a ballot overwhelmingly rejected

1 May Notts miners given day off by NCB to demonstrate against strike outside Notts NUM area headquarters

2 May Number of arrests reaches 1,479

Mass picket of Haworth colliery – up to 10,000-strong

3 May British Steel starts bringing coal into steel plants with scab lorries

8 May Coke supplies for Llanwern guaranteed by South Wales NUM

11 May Scottish area NUM agrees coal trains supplying Ravenscraig to resume

12 May 10,000 women on Women Against Pit Closures demonstration in Barnsley

14 May Rally in Mansfield of up to 40,000 striking miners and supporters. Police attack demonstrators in car park and arrest 56 on riot charges and five for conspiracy

16 May Anne Scargill, wife of the NUM president, arrested on picket line

17 May Tory Home Secretary Leon Brittan admits in Parliament that plain-clothes police are operating in the Nottinghamshire coalfield

20 May TUC general secretary Len Murray declares “unconstitutional” one-day general strikes in support of miners in Yorkshire, Humberside and South Wales

23 May NUM leaders meet MacGregor and NCB for talks, which collapse the same day

25 May High Court instructs NUM not to discipline Notts miners. Convoys of lorries carrying coking coal start from Orgreave coke depot to Scunthorpe steelworks

26-28 May Orgreave pickets begin to swell in numbers

29 May Mass picket of 7,000-plus at Orgreave. Riot police deployed for the first time. 82 arrests, 69 injured

30 May Arthur Scargill arrested at Orgreave. Massive mounted police operation

1 June Over 3,000 now arrested in strike

6 June 10,000 pickets at Orgreave: 93 arrests; 73 police and hundreds of pickets injured. Thatcher’s involvement in avoiding rail strike revealed by Daily Mirror

8 June NUM and NCB meet for talks. Miners’ march and lobby of Parliament in London – 120 arrested

13 June Talks break down

15 June NUM picket Joe Green killed by a lorry whilst picketing Ferrybridge power station

18 June Battle of Orgreave of nearly 10,000 pickets and 4,000 police. 93 arrests and 59 injured including Arthur Scargill

27 June Railway workers hold 24-hour strikes in London to support NUM. ISTC leaders say they will accept coal from anywhere

2 July Notts area council elections – strikebreakers take control

5-6 July NCB and NUM meet for talks

9 July National docks strike called over British Steel’s use of scab labour at Immingham to unload iron ore

10 July Court order granted to Notts miners forbidding NUM conference from passing rule change allowing disciplining of working miners

10-11 July NUM conference passes disciplinary rule changes

13 July Arrests made in strike pass 4,000 mark

Government withholds tax refunds to striking miners

18 July High Court grants Notts NUM application to have rule changes made null and void

Talks collapse over issue of uneconomic pits

19 July Thatcher makes her speech to Tory backbench committee calling the miners the “enemy within.”

22 July First national conference of Women Against Pit Closures

23 July Dockers call off strike

28 July NUM and TUC hold talks

31 July South Wales NUM fined £50,000 for contempt of court, refuse to pay and assets seized

l 1 August Mass demonstration outside South Wales NUM in Pontypridd against threat of sequestration. Labour Party Young Socialists (LPYS) mobilise hundreds to attend from their summer camp in the Forest of Dean

6 August Two Yorkshire miners apply to High Court for ballot in Yorkshire

10 August Special NUM conference reaffirms disciplinary rule changes and calls on TUC for support

11 August 20,000 march in Women Against Pit Closures demonstration in London

13 August Police refuse to co-operate with National Council for Civil Liberties regarding the policing of the strike

15 August South Wales miners occupy sequestrators Price Waterhouse’s offices in Birmingham

16 August Sequestrators claim to have seized £707,000 direct from South Wales NUM accounts

20-24 August Police battle with pickets for five days to get one scab into Easington colliery, Durham

30 August South Wales miners seize transporter bridge in Newport and 110 miners occupy BSC jetty at Port Talbot for 56 hours – Militant supporters amongst them

September (a month of battles at pit heads as NCB attempt to stir up back-to-work movement)

3 September 5,000 organised through Broad Left Organising Committee (BLOC) lobby the TUC, which votes to support NUM

9 September Talks resume

15 September Talks break down again

19 September Second docks strike ends

28 September Nacods votes by 82.5% in favour of strike

High Court rulings declare North Derbyshire and Yorkshire strikes illegal

30 September Neil Kinnock tries, unsuccessfully, to get motions criticising police actions during the miners’ strike off the Labour conference agenda

1 October Arthur Scargill and four other NUM leaders served with writ on floor of Labour conference. Scargill gets standing ovation at the conference

2 October Kinnock’s speech to the conference “abhors all violence”.

Over 7,000 have been arrested during the strike and 40 jailed

3 October Nacods and NCB go to conciliation service ACAS

9 October Tory Party conference sees Home Secretary Leon Brittan guarantee government money for policing strike

10 October NUM fined £200,000 and Arthur Scargill fined £1,000 for contempt of court

11 October New talks at ACAS

15 October Talks fail – NCB insists on its right to manage and close ‘uneconomic’ pits

19 October Power workers in EEPTU union, led by extreme right wingers, vote by 84% not to support miners

20 October Michael Eaton, area director in North Yorkshire, appointed as NCB spokesperson instead of the incompetent MacGregor

24 October Nacods call off strike after changes made to colliery review procedure by NCB to avert strike

25 October High Court orders seizure of NUM funds after union refuses to pay contempt of court fine

28 October Sunday Times story detailing NUM executive Roger Windsor’s visit to Libya. Windsor later claimed to be MI5 spy in Seumas Milne’s book The Enemy Within

29 October NCB removes Eaton as spokesperson after only nine days, to be reinstated shortly afterwards

3 November Kinnock announces he is too busy to speak at major NUM rallies

High Court forbids North Derbyshire NUM from spending any more money on the strike

Price Waterhouse seizes NUM assets

Special delegate conference reaffirms strike continues

6 November 3,000 attend mass NUM rally, Edinburgh

8 November 6,000 at NUM rally in Sheffield

9 November Mass picket at Cortonwood to stop one miner attempting to scab

11 November NCB offers £650 Christmas bonus to striking miners returning to work before 19 November

12 November Thatcher compares pickets to IRA bombers

13 November TUC general secretary, Norman Willis, confronted by hangman’s noose at miners’ rally in South Wales, after he attacks “the brick, the bolt and the petrol bomb”

21 November Government announces further £1 to be deducted from state benefits paid to striking miners’ families in addition to non-existent £15 strike pay already deducted

1 December Herbert Brewer appointed as receiver solely in charge of NUM funds

8,731 arrested, 87 gaoled and 17 sent to detention centres at this point in strike

3 December Brewer fails to claim NUM funds held in Luxembourg

7 December Brewer resigns, Michael Arnold takes over

TUC rules out ‘illegal’ action in support of the miners

14 December Energy minister, Peter Walker, rejects further talks

20 December Notts area council changes rules to ‘loosen’ ties with national NUM1985

1 January Kent miners Terry French and Chris Tazey sentenced to five years and three years respectively as arrests climb to over 10,500 (9,145 in England and Wales; 1,406 in Scotland)

12 January Pro-strike Notts NUM leader Henry Richardson suspended from office by right-wing strikebreakers

17 January One-day rail strike in Yorkshire and East Midlands in support of railway workers sacked at Coalville depot

24 January NUM executive agrees to meet NCB following meeting between NCB director Ned Smith and NUM general secretary Peter Heathfield

29 January Preliminary talks break down

19 February TUC meets Thatcher and Walker and produces final document

20 February NUM rejects TUC document but accepts review procedure as agreed by Nacods and asks for talks with no preconditions

21 February Special delegate conference rejects TUC document

24 February Big London demonstration in support of miners leads to 101 arrests after police attack the march

28 February NCB announce that sacked miners will not be reinstated

1 March Durham, Lancashire, South Wales and COSA vote for return to work without agreement. Scottish executive agrees same but with rider that this is dependant on an amnesty for 700 sacked miners

2 March Yorkshire votes by four votes to continue strike

3 March NUM special delegate conference votes by 98-91 to return to work without an agreement or amnesty

4 March Scotland delegate conference votes 7-6 to stay out

Yorkshire votes to go back

Kent votes to stay out

5 March Miners in South Wales and Yorkshire return behind brass bands with their supporters.

Some South Wales and Yorkshire miners turn back at picket lines mounted by Kent miners. Half of Yorkshire miners still out, as are half Scottish miners and all Kent miners.

Scottish miners’ delegates vote 10-5 for return to work

6 March 10,000 miners still striking in Yorkshire, Scotland and Kent

10-11 March Kent and Scotland last areas to vote to return to work

700 sacked miners still not reinstated into former jobs