The strike involved enormous hardship, with many receiving no strike
pay or benefits. Yet despite all the state could throw at them,
for a year the miners and their communities stood firm in a magnificent
display of solidarity. But it wasnt just the miners - the
women also played a central role. They transformed the strike, and
it transformed them. At a meeting at the Easington Miners Welfare,
Mick McGahey, Vice President of the NUM, referred to the housewives
in the County who understand the problems. One woman replied,
We no longer regard ourselves as housewives. We
are soldiers in the struggle.
In mining villages, women played a key role in the soup kitchens
and in the distributing of food parcels, but they also took part
in the picketing and spoke across the country. Meanwhile, in every
town and city in Britain, people formed miners support groups.
The 14 support groups on Merseyside, for example, sent over £1
million to the miners during the strike. It was estimated at the
end of the strike that over £60 million had been collected
in support. As important as money was the tidal wave of donations
of food, clothes, toys for Christmas, and much more.
Solidarity took other forms too. Train drivers in many areas refused
to move scab coal, despite a lack of firm support from their union
leaders. Print workers twice refused to print editions of the Sun
because of its attacks on miners. And twice during the summer of
84, Dockers across Britain went on strike.
All this solidarity could and should have been the basis for a
movement which would have seen the miners win victory and drive
Thatcher from office. The blame for the defeat of the strike lies
at the feet of the trade union leaders and the Labour Party. They
at best mouthed support for the miners while doing little or nothing
in reality, and at worst actively opposed attempts to build solidarity.
The key turning point came in the autumn of 1984. The TUC membership
had voted to stop all coal and oil movement. But Trade Union leaders
refused to implement this. Backed up by Labour leader Neil Kinnock,
the leaders insisted on sticking within the Tory anti-union laws.
As the strike finally drew to an end in early 1985, the Coal Boards
industrial relations director, Ned Smith, made a frank admission
that had the TUC implemented the boycott of oil and coal, the miners
would have won. By then, though, it was too late. The strike had
met a tragic and unnecessary defeat.
But the miners strike wasnt just about protecting jobs and
communities, it was a defining moment in the struggle between capital
and labour. It was a class war, and unfortunately capital won. Prime
Minister Thatcher made no bones about it. In her memoirs, she wrote,
The coal strike was always about far more than uneconomic
pits. It was a political strike. At the pit gates at Easington,
the pickets knew this all too well. Theyve put us in
a corner and if we dont fight our way out, therell be
nothing left anyway. If we lose this strike we can forget about
the union; theyll be able to do what they like with us.
Curbs on unions had come before 1984, but the noose was tightened
after the miners went back to work. Employers began to feel confident
in taking on any group of workers. And while British workers were
once described by right wing economists, as the laziest workforce
in the world, we now work the longest hours in Europe for
the lowest pay.
But struggles as epic as this are also an education and an inspiration.
Women Against Pit Closures continued to fight and in 1994, in a
squatted courthouse in Brighton, some of those women came to speak
to a group calling themselves Justice? - part of a nationwide campaign
to oppose the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. The women
told us we needed to be organised and to stick together; that to
win we needed to break the law and embrace direct action, and that
we needed our own newsletter to get our message across. Not so long
after that meeting, the first ever SchNEWS came rolling off the
press, promoting direct action and solidarity with people in struggle
- Banner Theatres new play Burning Issues - The
Miners 1984-2004 begins this Saturday (6) at the Potteries
Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. For other
dates, 0121 682 0730 www.bannertheatre.co.uk
- Recommended reading: People Versus State - David
Reed & Olivia Adamson (www.rcgfrfi.easynet.co.uk).
State of Siege - Politics and Policing in the Coal Fields
Coulter, Miller and Walker (Canary Press 1984) Also check out
for more books and general info.
Haiti To See You Go
The crisis in Haiti is another case of brazen US manipulation
of a small, impoverished country with the truth unexplored by journalists,
wrote Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute this week. And he could
not be more spot on. In the mainstream media line on the Haitian
revolt, President Aristide is portrayed as an undemocratic leader
who stole elections and refused to address opposition concerns.
There is, however, another, hushed-up side to this well-rehearsed
George Bushs foreign policy team came into office hell-bent
on giving Mr Aristide the boot. Why? Because many powerful US right-wingers
were convinced that Aristide was another Fidel Castro in the
Caribbean. Aristide critics in the US were royally peeved
when Clinton restored him to power in 1994 after the (US-backed)
campaign of terror during the 1991-94 coup against him. They succeeded
in getting US troops withdrawn soon after Aristide was re-instated,
well before the country could be stabilised. In the meantime, the
so-called opposition, a collection of rich Haitians
linked to the Duvalier regime and the CIA, worked Washington to
lobby against Mr Aristide. And who are the Duvaliers? None other
than a family of ruthless Haitian dictators. Now exiled Haitian
dictator Jean-Claude Baby Doc Duvalier had been named
president for life at age 18 after the death in 1971 of his father,
Francois. Accused of human rights violations, mass killings and
stealing at least $120 million from the national treasury, however,
Duvalier fled to France in 1986, thus ending a 29-year dynasty.
In 2000, Haiti held parliamentary and then presidential elections.
Aristides party won the election, although candidates who
should have faced a second-round election also gained seats. Observers
declared the elections successful, if flawed.
Mr Aristide won the presidential election later that year, in a
contest the US media now says was boycotted by the opposition
and so, not legitimate. The truth behind this seems to be that Duvalier
thugs hardly constituted a winning ticket and so didnt even
try. Nor did they have to, according to Jeffrey Sachs. The opposition
party in Haiti benefited from tight links with the incoming
Bush team, which told Aristide it would freeze all aid unless he
agreed with the opposition over new elections...the tragedy, or
joke, is that Mr Aristide agreed to compromise, but the opposition
simply balked. Because of this, the US cut off $500 million
of US and World Bank aid, and the country started its decent into
Colin Powell has said that allegations of US involvement in this
weeks kidnap of Aristide are baseless and absurd,
but Aristide claims to have arrived in Bangui, the Central African
Republic capital, in a contracted US-airforce jet. Aristide described
white American, white military agents arriving at his
house and forcing him to sign a document relinquishing power and
threatening bloodshed on his refusal.
Now the question is, what happens next? Haitis Supreme Court
Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre has been installed as interim leader
and has kept a low profile since. Meanwhile, good old Baby
Doc Duvalier said he wanted to return to his homeland. This
is my country, Duvalier said in an interview in Paris. Im
ready to put myself at the disposal of the Haitian people.
Why Baby Doc, you sound just about as sincere, democratic, and freedom-loving
as George W. himself. Whatever else happens, one thing is surethe
US government has yet again tried to play puppet master with the
worlds governments, picking and choosing who should rule based
on its own personal ideas of good and evil
and getting even more blood on its hands in the process.
All these camps need more people to defend them:
A final eviction notice was granted on March 3rd, bailiffs could
move in at any time. If you cant make it contact the land
clearing contractor Land & Water Services Ltd. of Guildford
(01483 202733 www.land-water.co.uk)
to remind them of the criminal investigation around the trashing
of bat and dormice habitat at St Davids Wood which makes their
work illegal. All this destruction just for an access road into
an industrial area! Info: 07811 948764 or 07708 420446. For a map
SHERWOOD FOREST CAMP
Rob, the protester who fell 50ft from a treehouse last week, is
back on the Sherwood Forest protest site with a broken arm. The
camp still needs the usual tat plus extra climbing harnesses
to prevent any more falls. The planning committee meet at Mansfield
Civic Centre, 5pm March 10th and all are invited to make comments!
07050 656410 http://mysite.freeserve.com/sherwood_camp/
NINE LADIES ANTI-QUARRY CAMP
The camp is under imminent threat of eviction, bailiffs paid a recent
visit to the camp. The camp has been going since 1999 to stop the
destruction of Stanton Moor hillside in the Peak District National
Park from quarrying, and to protect the Nine Ladies Stone Circle.
Today sees the opening of the second social centre on Fortess Rd.,
London, with a free film night and freshly baked pizza made on the
premises! The new Social Centre, in what used to be the Grand
Banks wine bar, is right opposite Tufnell Park tube station.
You thought it was over? No East Sussex County Council are
considering new routes for a A259 Bexhill Rd relief road,
and make a decision in June. Originally the plan was quashed in
2001 (See SchNEWS 288, 313) when the govt rejected it on environmental
impact grounds. Despite this, however, most of the newly proposed
routes still trash the Combe Haven Site of Special Scientific Interest,
one of Britains most important wildlife sites.
Bayer recently spent a lot of money getting injunctions out on
campaigners who are opposed to their involvement in genetically
modified food (SchNEWS 436 & 442). But all this must seem like
a waste of money as they now seem to be scaling back things on their
own. Last week, many of Bayers top GM scientists were sacked,
including Paul Rylott, head of their UK bioscience department and
recent recipient of a pie-in-the-face. Hopefully all of this is
an indication that Bayer know there is little acceptance of GM technology
in Europe. www.stopbayergm.org
- Phytopharm a drugs company who have been targeted by Stop
Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, has obtained a High Court injunction
using the anti-stalking laws to limit protests close to their
HQ to just six people for only two hours a week. The BioIndustry
Organisation, the biotech sector lobby group, said the court action
shows there was a need for a single piece of legislation to crack
down on animal rights protesters. www.shac.net
RIP Chris Gorman
After a long battle with cancer, Chris Gorman passed away last
Thursday at home in Germany. Chris, who was in her early thirties,
was well known for her regular involvement in Reclaim the Streets
and at the more recent Reclaim the Future events. Her memory will
live on in the hearts of all who knew her and in our continuing
struggle against capitalism.
Vatan and Robin
The case against six people charged under Anti-Terrorism laws has
been thrown out of court due to a ridiculous prosecution by the
Home Office. The six were charged under the Terrorism Act for supposedly
supporting the banned Turkish Revolutionary Peoples Liberation
Party-Front, or DHKP-C (SchNEWS 392). They were arrested for selling
copies of Vatan, a radical Turkish-based magazine that
criticises Turkeys human rights record. The prosecution said
that Vatan is terrorist property, even though it is
sold legally throughout Turkey and Europe. A week before the trial,
defence lawyers produced a letter from the Home Office confirming
that the six were actually working for the similarly named DHKC
which has never been banned. The prosecution went ahead with the
case anyway, claiming that the six also worked for the DHKP-C.
Lawyers for the six were then told four days before the trial that
the consent of the attorney general - a requirement for prosecutions
under the Terrorism Act which involve another country - had never
been given. At the last minute, the attorney general gave a rushed
consent. But all of this proved too much for the judge presiding
over the case, who said Were this prosecution to continue,
it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute amongst
right-thinking people and offend this courts sense of propriety
- Last week, 19 immigrants became the first people to take
part in a new ceremony where they all pledged their loyalty
to the UK and respect for its rights and freedoms before
becoming citizens. We hope Home Secretary Blunkett, also at the
ceremony, was taking note of that last bit.
Robert Seth Hayes, a former Black Panther, has collapsed
in prison ten times over the past few months due to lack of treatment
for diabetes. He fears that unless he receives a transfer to another
prison where they take his illness seriously, he may die. Write
to the Correctional Services Commissioner to demand his transfer:
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner, NYS Department of Correctional Services,
Building 2, 1220 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY, 12226-2050, USA.
Letters of support to: Robert Seth Hayes #74A-2280,
Clinton Correctional Facility, PO Box 2001, Dannemora, NY, 12929,
The Miners of Silverwood, having been told they were confined
to six pickets only, built themselves a seventh comrade in the shape
of a large snowman, wearing a plastic policemans helmet. Next
morning, Chief Inspector Nesbitt appears on the scene and seeing
the jeering miners and their snowy companion, ordered the constables
to knock the snowman down. This order brought rebellion to the police
ranks as PCs declined to, look so fucking stupid knocking
down a snowman.
Very well, shouts the irate Nesbitt, jumping in his
Range Rover and charging off to demolish the snowman
vehicle made contact, it came to a dead stop, smashing front grill,
bumper and headlamps and hurling the shocked Nesbitt into the steering
wheel. PCs found excuses to walk away or suppress body-shaking laughter
while pickets fell about on the ground with side-splitting mirth.
The snowman had been constructed around a three foot high two foot
thick concrete post!
From ex-miner Dave Douglasss book, All Power to
the Imagination published by The Class War Federation
07931 301901 www.classwaruk.org
SchNEWS warns readers despite miner differences well be
back extracting the piss and slagging off from the coalface of the
pits of capital... Honest!
NOW OUT!!! 'PEACE DE RESISTANCE' - SchNEWS Annual
2003 - £8 + £1.70 p&p
- SchNEWS Round
issues 51 - 100 Sold out - Sorry
- SchNEWS Annual
issues 101 - 150 £3.70 inc. postage.
- SchNEWS Survival
Guide issues 151 - 200 and a whole lot more £3.70 inc. postage
- The SchQUALL
book at only £6 + £1.70 p&p.
and SQUALLs YEARBOOK 2001. 300 pages of adventures from
the direct action frontline. £3 + £1.70 p&p. You
can order the book from a bookshop or your library, quote the
ISBN 09529748 4 3.
- SchNEWS Of
The World issues 301 - 350. 300
more pages of adventures from the direct action frontline. £7
+ £1.50 p&p. You can order the book from a bookshop
or your library, quote the ISBN 09529748 6X
In the UK you
can get SchNEWS Annual, Survival Handbook, Yearbook 2001 and SchNEWS
of the World for just £15 inc p&p.
£6.00 for individual books, £13 for above offer).
In addition to
50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles, photos, cartoons,
subverts, a yellow pages list of contacts, comedy etc.
to SchNEWS: Send 1st Class stamps (e.g. 10 for next 9 issues)
or donations (payable to Justice?). Or £15 for a year's subscription,
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