Tag: num

Yorkshire Main Heritage Trust

This September will mark the 30th anniversary of the closure of Yorkshire Main Colliery. This changed our Village from a thriving vibrant community to one that was unrecognisable. The strong community cohesion achieved during the life of the ceolliery, and supported by our local institutions, soon began to unravel. We all witnessed the infrastructure crumbling year after year, with the green shoots of recovery taking over 25 years to emerge from the burned out housing estates.

On Saturday September 5th, the Heritage Trust are holding an event in the Miners Memorial Garden, followed by entertainment in Edlington Top Club. We will be unveiling and presenting to the Community a replica of the Unions 1920 Banner funded by the Heritage Lottery fund. This was made with the support of Northern Banners and used art work provided by students from Sir Thomas Wharton Community College. Strap lines for the Banner poles have been provided by the family of primary schools.

We will also be presenting a Timeline of the Collieries proud history imbedded in to the large stone in the corner of the garden. This was sponsored by Keepmoat, and will be supplemented by a piece of Pit Art sponsored by Profab Engineering.

During the event in the Garden, entertainment will be provided by City of Sheffield Pipe Band, Charlotte Leese vocalist, plus performances by local community groups.

Speakers at the event will be Michael Dugher MP, Tosh McDonald, President of ASLEF, former Edlington residents & Chris Skidmore, Chairman Yorkshire Area NUM & David Douglass, author & former NUM official.

Following the event in the garden a reunion will be held in the Top Club, with folk music & a Gig supported by top bands for the younger generation.

On site catering will be available in the car park adjacent to the club.

Bringing back the Collective Spirit – Keep the Faith

release poster event

Davy Jones and Joe Green Lecture

The Davy Jones, Joe Green Lecture on Saturday (14 March) at the NUM Headquarters in Barnsley. Another excellent event in commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the Miners Strike.

With Banners Held High

An all day event celebrating the courage, resourcefulness, strength and spirit of the miners on the 30th anniversary of their return to work at the end of a year-long struggle.

Download the flyer: WBHH poster – 2

For more info email.

Photos from Kellingley Pit March and Rally

Saturday 31 January 2015 – a massively well supported march and rally by miners and their supporters in Knottingley to keep Kellingley, Hatfield and Thoresby pits open. Great speeches – with Dennis Skinner outstanding (as ever!).

Dennis is the keynote speaker at With Banners Held High on Saturday 7 March 2015 at Unity Hall, Wakefield. Daytime tickets still available from www.unityworks.co.uk/events or 01924 831114.

Arthur Scargill’s NUM inspires trade union drop-in centre

This article by Matthew Taylor originally appeared in the Guardian.

The Barnsley HQ of the 1984 miners’ strike is buzzing again, as host to a Unite scheme aimed at empowering the community.

Joe Rollin, Unite member

Joe Rollin, pictured in the Barnsley NUM hall, says Unite wants to bridge the gap the coalition has made between the employed and others in society. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian.
The small wood-panelled office, where piles of “Coal not Dole” stickers vie for space with posters decrying the government’s bedroom tax, has already seen its fair share of history.It was from this room in the Barnsley headquarters of the National Union of Mineworkers that Arthur Scargill fought the 1984/85 miners’ strike – one of the most bitter industrial disputes of the 20th century.Now most of the mines are closed and the union movement is a shadow of its former strength. But Scargill’s old office is buzzing with activity once again.Unite has started up a community scheme, launched two years ago, that offers membership of the union to those not in work – unemployed people, students and pensioners – and the cost is just 50p a week.

Blending practical support, on issues ranging from welfare cuts to housing, with often radical direct-action campaigns, the union has attracted 7,000 members spread across 70 local groups in the past 24 months.

“It is about reaching out to people who might not even know what a trade union is and making it relevant to them and the struggles they are facing in their own community,” said Joe Rollin, as Unite community volunteers offer advice and support to a steady stream of Barnsley’s unemployed going into Scargill’s old office.

Rollin, 36, is one of 10 regional coordinators and the Barnsley office was  a donation, given free of charge, by the NUM. He says that with the economic slump and increase in short-term, zero-hours jobs, the idea that trade unions should only help those in work is outdated.

“We are saying the union is not an exclusive club. If you find yourself out of work we can’t be saying ‘oh sorry we haven’t got a place for you any more’. It is about that duty to our members and crucially bridging the gap that this government is trying to create between people in work and the unemployed.”

At 7am that morning Rollin and about 15 other Unite community members had been on a local picket line at an Argos factory to support a dispute and then staged a protest outside the company’s store in the town centre.

Other volunteers help out at a local food bank and soup kitchen before opening the doors to the drop-in centre at around 10am.

“We are trying to link more radical direct action type stuff with practical support for people in their communities,” said Rollin. “It is about offering help first, then education and organisation … that mixture seems to be creating quite a buzz in Barnsley.”

The Barnsley group has been at the forefront of the anti-bedroom tax campaign and has initiated scores of challenges against the government’s benefits sanctions. Its members have also been involved in Unite’s wider direct action, or leverage, campaigns. Other groups scattered around Britain have launched hundreds of similar grassroots campaigns, from saving women’s refuges to opposing youth club closures. Some have teamed up with migrants’ rights groups to fight discrimination and others have successfully secured apprentices for young people.

Rollin says that the activism gives people who have often felt ignored and isolated a feeling of empowerment and of being useful again. Just as important were the growing links between community members and those in work.

“We want to give workers the confidence to take industrial action because bosses are constantly telling people ‘if you don’t like it there are millions out there that do’. But if we can show that unemployed people are supporting workers on the picket line that is a really powerful thing to do.”

The small team working out of Scargill’s former office are all volunteers, some of whom became involved after going to the centre for help.

Rollin said: “When the government are saying unemployed people are lying in bed until 2pm with the curtains drawn we can actually say, no, they are down on the picket line at 7am in the morning, then volunteering all day helping other people, as well as desperately searching for work.”

One of the campaigns the Barnsley community membership union has backed is the effort to protect free bus and train travel for elderly people and people with disabilities in the region.

Hundreds of protesters, many Unite community members, have taken part in weekly Freedom Rides – a tactic made famous by America’s civil rights campaigners – refusing to pay for tickets as they travel en mass from south Yorkshire towns to weekly rallies at Meadow Hall station near Sheffield. Unite has provided transport, printed leaflets and offered legal support to the campaign.

The protests, which organisers say have had widespread public support, have forced a partial U-turn by local transport chiefs, who have agreed to restore free travel for disabled people and offered half-price tickets for elderly citizens. But the campaigners say the protests will continue until full free travel concession are restored.

Unite says that, across Britain, its community membership scheme has helped tens of thousands of unemployed people, students and pensioners, the membership growing all the time.

With British trade union membership hovering at about 6.5 million (compared to its 1979 heyday of 13 million) it is thought the union movement can do with all the fresh thinking it can muster.

As he shows off the NUM’s meeting hall festooned with colliery banners recalling that union’s past industrial might, Rollin says Unite’s effort to reach out to those without jobs is breaking new ground and could be the start of a significant chapter in Britain’s labour history. “It is reconnecting our community with trade union values. People who might never have come across a trade union, apart from what they read in the papers, suddenly see what we are about and see that together we can stand up and be counted.”

NUM Banner Exhibition

As part of the 30th Anniversary of the Strike Commemorations the Yorkshire Area NUM in partnership with the “BARNSLEY CIVIC” are holding a “Banners Display” of Barnsley Area Pit Branches open at the time of the Strike, in the Civic Building from 27th August-6th September. Admission is free. Mining Memorabilia will also be on display.
NB (Closed on Sundays).

View the event poster here: NUM BANNERS 1 (3)

Once more unto the breach, dear friends!

30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
The spirit of ’84/85.

The weather was dreadful. Really, really dreadful. But then again, it was Glastonbury weekend, so maybe it should have been expected. With a display of the grim humour that got many through the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike, it was suggested that Thatcher was behind the heavy rain that lashed the NUM march through Barnsley, in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the year long strike. “She pissed on us in life and now she’s pissing on us in death”.

Hundreds gathered in the historic Miners’ Hall at the NUM headquarters in Barnsley, in preparation for the short march through Barnsley town centre. On display was the paraphernalia of a once proud industry that had bound communities together, clustered around the pit heads of South Yorkshire. An industry that was cruelly crushed by a government hell-bent on destroying the unions, in their determination to further a free market agenda that dogs us to this day.

30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
One of the many banners on display.

The march began to assemble in the increasingly heavy rain. With union banners on display from collieries and regions all over the country, the over-riding atmosphere was of camaraderie and of pride. The brass band struck up and the march was off in a blaze of sound and colour, in defiance of the slate grey sheets of rain.

30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
Left to right: NUM General Secretary Chris Kitchen, Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, Unite’s Kevin Coyne and NUM President Nicky Wilson.

Just off the Dearne Valley Parkway lies Cortonwood. Now a retail park with stores such as Argos, Sports Direct, McDonalds and Matalan, it is hard to believe that this was once the site of the colliery where the strike started. It seems sadly symbolic that in this place, where men once hewed coal from the ground and began the march out that led to the most bitter strike of recent history, the forces of commerce have moved in. Bulldozed away the remnants of industry and replaced them with stores full of consumer goods, fast food and minimum wages.

When the strike began, I was an 18 year old coal worker, bagging coal at a distribution yard in Huddersfield. I still remember the gritty crunch of coal dust in my mouth and how it ingrained itself into your skin. I remember how the old guys who drove the delivery trucks, after a lifetime of handling coal had been stained a dirty grey colour. I had nothing but respect for those that did the job of hauling coal to the surface and when the lorries started to bring coal from the working pits into the yard (under the pretence that it was destined for hospitals), I resigned.

30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
Ian Clayton addresses the rally.
30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
NUM President Nick Wilson delivers his passionate speech.

Back at the Miners’ Hall, there was a rally. Looking out over the sodden congregation, Ian Clayton opened with the observation that soon the steam would begin to rise and that it probably wouldn’t be the first time in this historic venue. Ian and all of the speakers that followed, Kevin Coyne from Unite, Women Against Pit Closures and NUM President Nicky Wilson, gave fine speeches, full of pride in their culture and defiance against the neo-liberal machine that has brought the industry to the brink of extinction.

Sadly, Owen Jones didn’t show up, but George Arthur of the Freedom Riders gave an often humorous insight into current policing practises, following the arrest of two Freedom Riders protesters at Sheffield train station earlier in the week. NUM General Secretary Chris Kitchen closed the rally by ironically thanking South Yorkshire Police for assisting in the town centre road closures, “the last time the police showed me where to park was at Orgreave”.

30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
NUM President Nicky Wilson (left), NUM General Secretary Chris Kitchen (centre) and Kevin Coyne of Unite.

There is still hope for the future of the coal industry in the UK. The NUM and Unite have joined together in a venture called Coal Combine. At the Carbon Capture & Storage / Coal Combine Seminar in January, delegates from deep mines, surface mines and coal burning power stations took part, uniting not just the two unions but workers from the energy sector. The newly launched website can be found here.

I attended the march as a photographer, but that 18 year old coal worker of my past marched under the banners in solidarity with a battle which may have been lost, but shoulder to shoulder with my comrades in the war for rights and justice which continues.

See a short video of the march at the Sheffield Star here.