Socialist Worker

Pit villages fight back

Issue No. 1

Yorkshire pit villages erupted on Monday when miners kept NCB area safety men out of pits in response to coal board efforts to engineer a back to work movement.

The picketing is a warning to Thatcher of the problems she will face if the coal board try to move coal from pit heads.

A mass picket of Rossington miners felled trees across the entry road and stretched barbed wire round their pit yard.

Some 250 police stormed the barricades early on Monday and brought in the safety men and, in a whitewashed NCB van, two scabs who live in Armthorpe village.

The word quickly went round Rossington village and numbers began to swell round the pit. Miners from Armthorpe colliery came across to join the picket.

After consulting with the NUM branch committee, the police withdrew. The NUM branch committee agreed to call in four top Yorkshire officials, Jack Taylor, Sammy Thompson, Owen Briscoe and Frank Cave, to disperse the crowd.

The officials moved among the pickets parroting the same lines: ‘We must be organised and disciplined. We are the generals. What you are doing is illegal. You’ll be charged with unlawful assembly and riotous behaviour.’

But no one moved. The pickets responded by re-occupying the pit yard, holding the management hostage and rebuilding the ­barricades.

The crowd began to disperse at tea time, but when police reinforcements were seen in the village they rejoined the picket.

The police asked Jack Taylor if he could fetch out the management ‘hostages’, but the pickets refused.

Finally two police vans led by officials got through to rescue the managers. They left under a hail of bricks leaving the assistant colliery manager behind.

Meanwhile a group of women found a scab in the  main street and beat him up.

(14 July, 1984)


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