OVER 300 turned out to the annual David Jones/Joe Green Strike Memorial Day in Barnsley on Saturday. It was the largest turnout for this event for many years. David and Joe were miners killed on the picket line during the 1984-5 strike. Miners, ex-miners and families, along with other trade unionists, heard Dennis Skinner MP and Ian Lavery of the NUM recall events from the miners' heroic struggle.
They paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the strike, those who lost their liberty and those who lost their jobs. Skinner lambasted the failure of the then TUC leader Norman Willis, and most other union leaders, to give real and effective support to the miners. He also criticised the way that Blair has hijacked the Labour Party and let down the working class.
Ian Lavery told how today UK Coal, which now runs many of Britain's remaining pits, is the most appalling employer. It is forcing flexible working contracts on the remaining miners. One miner has just been sacked for refusing to accept the new contract.
Brenda Procter, chair of Women Against Pit Closures (WAPC), spoke of the way that in 1984-5 whole communities became involved in a struggle that was not just an industrial dispute. She spoke of how women were at the heart of the strike then, and how WAPC are still involved in struggles taking place today.
One of those attending said, 'Brenda's contribution was a highlight of the event. She shows that we never gave up on struggle. This annual memorial shows that the battles of the past are not forgotten, and that gives heart to those fighting today and in the future. The class never forgets.'
It was an emotional occasion for all those attending, remembering the sacrifices that were made then and the price that is still being paid today. Everyone found the day moving, and agreed that the memory of the miners' strike and the sacrifices made by so many had to be kept and valued.
David Jones' father moved the audience with his statement, 'We didn't lose, we didn't roll over. We stood and we fought back. Enjoy the afternoon's events. It is what David would have wanted.'