Hard Times: The Iron Lady and the second major miners strike

Local Opinions

Our community reporter Spring Heeled Jack has written a series of short articles which we will share over the next few weeks.

Here is the latest installment of Hard Times.

The Iron Lady

When Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister she immediately set out to curb the power of unions by introducing new legislation.

This meant that employees had to be balloted before engaging in any industrial action, which meant stopping wildcat or unofficial strikes.

The new regime continued to pursue a deliberate policy of reducing the power of the unions by insisting on a cooling off period and negotiations with an independent arbiter ACAS, who would mediate and try to avoid further industrial action.

However, many union bosses then opposed Thatcher’s agenda and the battle lines were drawn, which unfortunately involved ordinary people not attending their workplace, being unpaid and still having bills to pay whilst being out on strike.

The second major miners’ strike

Margaret Thatcher’s tough stance regarding strikes finally led to a major strike in 1984 lasting over a year into the end of March 1985, where the miners’ leader Arthur Scargill brought the National Union of Mineworkers out on strike, but without firstly conducting a ballot of the union membership.

Margaret Thatcher then employed Ian McGregor to represent the government by dealing and when negotiating with the union leaders, which was done consistently with coercion.

One of the main difficulties throughout the miners’ strike was the unbending and inflexible attitudes regarding the personalities of the people involved in the negotiations.

Another difficulty was that the Government utilised the Police from areas out with the local areas to deal with picketing, which led to further conflict and violence on picket lines throughout the entire UK and for the duration of the miners’ strike.

Equally, Arthur Scargill was shown over time to have made a gross error of judgement by failing to ballot the entire union membership, which was always reported in the media as being undemocratic.

Neil Kinnock, then Labour leader could not argue his case in the House of Commons about the miners’ strike because of Scargill’s actions, where he had failed to ballot the membership first of all.

Article submitted by Spring Heeled Jack.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not the Digital Sentinel.

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