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UK miners' strike (1984-1985)

In 1984, the National Coal Board[?] announced that an agreement reached after the 1974 miners' strike had become obsolete, and that they intended to close 20 pits. 20,000 jobs would be lost, and many communities in the North of England and Wales would lose their primary source of employment. On March 12, 1984 Arthur Scargill, President of the National Union of Mineworkers[?] (NUM) called a national strike.

Crucially, although there was widespread support for the strike amongst mine workers, Scargill had not balloted members of the union. This tactical error allowed the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher to bring the full weight of the law down on the striking miners and the union. The NUM's funds were seized on October 24, 1984 by order of the High Court. Miners were denied state benefits and their wages, and the police were mobilised to deal with picket lines on the grounds that they represented illegal public disturbances. The miners also split with certain groups, notably from Nottinghamshire, forming the pro-government Union of Democratic Mineworkers[?] (UDM).

One of the most famous clashes of the Miners' Strike took place at Orgreave[?] near Rotherham on June 18, 1984. This confrontation between striking miners and police, dubbed the Battle of Orgreave, was the subject of a historical reenactment in 2001, which was recorded in a Channel 4 documentary by Mike Figgis[?].

The strike ended on March 3, 1985, nearly a year after it had begun, when the NUM conceded defeat, faced as it was with an impoverished membership and hostile government.

Dame Stella Rimmington (MI5 Director General, 1992-1996) published an autobiography in 2001 in which she revealed the extent of MI5 "counter-subversion" exercises against the NUM and the striking miners, which included the tapping of union leaders' phones.



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