This is crisis week for the miners' strike. It is a crisis which can be overcome and pave the way for victory. But only if urgent measures are taken.
One central problem faces the strike. If solved, it would make other issues like the huge policing operation and right wing pressure for a national ballot fade into insignificance.
The problem is that of leadership in the militant areas. Not nearly enough has been done to draw the mass of strikers into the picketing. Not nearly enough has been done to organise the picketing in an effective manner.
The miners showed more than ten years ago what mass picketing means. In the 1972 strike around 40,000 miners were picketing every day - an average of one in five. In the militant areas the proportion was much higher.
Involvement on such a large scale today would mean 20,000 to 30,000 miners going out to picket both the non-striking areas and secondary targets such as power staitons, coal and coke depots, railway yards, ports and steelworkers. The police would not be able to block all those pickets.
Unfortunately on most days only about a tenth of that number are involved in the picketing. No wonder the police are laughing. No wonder the Tories have made so much headway with their propaganda about the ballot.
In Yorkshire Jack Taylor, the area president, claims there isn't enough money to finance picketing. Yet the
Mass picketing is the only way to stop the movement of coal. If the officials won't organise it, then rank and file activists are going to have to, just as they have in the past.
14 April, 1984
14 April, 1984
'We've got to get together rank and file trade unionists. We can't leave it to the officials.'
Steve Sales, Armthorpe
'We need to escalate into other areas and then picket power workers, lorry drivers, railworkers and dockers.'
Duncan Foggo, a Monktonhall miner on the picket at Bilston Glen