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(en) Britain, Hatfield, closure of the Branch and to commemoration of the Great Coal Strike of 84/85.

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 1 May 2005 12:19:23 +0200 (CEST)

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Report back from Hatfield Main Branch NUM Rally and Social to mark
the closure of the Branch and to commemorate the 20th Anniversary
of the Miners return to work in the Great Coal Strike of 84/85.
Well it has finally happened. Hatfield Main branch has shut up shop
and the pit is closed. After eighty seven years of struggle the
legendary branch of the NUM is no longer. On Monday 20th Dec, at
the NUM Yorkshire Area Council meeting, David Douglas attended
as Union Delegate for the Hatfield Main Branch for the last time. He
was Branch delegate from 1979.
So it was only natural that ‘Danny the Red’ as he was known
received an award for his work in the Branch at Saturday’s
commemoration of the end of the Miners Strike of 84/85 and farewell
Rally for the group. Speakers all showed their appreciation for
Dave’s tireless hard work and called for the NUM to reimburse
all the money that ever came out of Dave’s own pocket whilst
working for the benefit of not only the branch members but also the
community in general. While some speakers mentioned that they had
not always agreed with Dave, his work was ‘second to none.’
One memory was of him pushing through a decision that he himself
was against. When asked why Dave was pushing for it he was quoted
as saying, “if that’s what my members want that’s what
they get. End of.”

In 1994/5 he became Branch Secretary at Hatfield Main but after the
pit was privatised the NUM no longer had any recognition there. In
1994 he opened the Miners Community Advice Centre in Stainforth
so that he could help the people from the mining community -
working miners, ex-miners and their widows and dependants. The
centre also acts as a political, sociological and Trade Union Centre,
taking up the causes affecting the Mining Industry and Mining

There were also calls from miners and branch members to set up a
Hatfield Main Miners Association to meet periodically to mark and
commemorate events and to take part in Galas and organise events of
political, cultural and historic interest. One miner said that ‘the
Branch banners should not be left to collect dust but be regularly
paraded as a reminder of workers struggle.’

Some of the most inspiring speeches came from members of the
‘hit squads’ of 84/85.
Memories of hard fought battles across the country for hearts and
minds as well as and most importantly for the right to work. We were
reminded time and again that the strike had never been about pay but
about the right to earn a living, and the importance of remembering it
as just that.

One of the more humorous stories came about an older ex-miner
who had been visited by the police at his home address. He fought six
of them. Only problem was they had only popped round to tell him
his previous charges had been dropped!

The Banner Theatre’s performance of their ‘Burning
Issues-The Miners 1984-2004’ was well worth the wait. By using
music and song to video footage of news and personal stories from
miners and their wives and supporters, the performance went down a
treat with people on their feet singing along to the old picket line
beauties such as ‘I’d rather be a picket than a scab’.
Nobody at this event seem to have forgotten which side they were on.

There were only a couple of downside to the evening which was one,
the lack of people. While there are thousands who live in the
community and few who weren’t touched by the events of the
strike, there were only approximately 200 who turned up. As one
ex-miner put it “I apologise you’ve come all this way and
hardly anyone from this community bothered to turn out. I’m
ashamed of them.” Secondly, apart from ClassWar*, who jointly
put this event on with the Hatfield Branch and the Mining
Community Advice Centre, there were, apart also from a few
representatives of European syndicalists, no sign of anyone else
showing their solidarity at this event. There weren’t even the
hacks from the SWP trying to push their wares in peoples faces,
which one could say is a plus, but the lack of attendance possibly
indicates the lack of any political motivation in the wider society,
which is something sadly we all should be ashamed of.

Main banner….something perhaps we should all ponder on.
* [Ed note: ClassWar is an anarchist federation]

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