In Uncategorized on February 4, 2010 at 11:50 am
I got up at 4am this morning so I could get down to Westoe for the mass picket called in response to Westoe NACOD’s voting for a return to work, but only if there wasn’t a hostile picket at the gates. It was brilliant!! Over 500 men turned out to face one senior pig, as requested by NACOD’s. We were VERY hostile as we marched up to the pit gates with the ‘Zulu’ chant being shouted loudly. Just like the good old days. We spotted a man sitting in a car beside the pit, and when we asked him who he was he told us he was a reporter from the Shields Gazette, notorious amongst the pickets for its pro – scab, pro – NCB stance. He was lucky to get away alive as we began to rock his car and almost turned his world upside down.
The Deputies leader was very arrogant in his short discussion with our officials, resulting in a hail of paimt bombs, stones and traffic bollards raining down on the Deputies, forcing them into a very undignified retreat. Things then started to get out of hand and a car was overturned. Unfortunately it was owned by a local TV rental company who have threatened to stop all credit to striking miners. At least they wont have to watch the shit being poured out constantly about the return to work!
A Deputy’s car was also covered in paint because its owner had been particularly outspoken against us. He has already been bleating to the local media, and has hung a sign on his car naming the NUM as the ‘hooligans’ responsible. No doubt his action will result in further abuse, but whatever he suffers it will not be a fraction of what we have suffered for the past 11 months!
The Shields Gazette had a field day in tonights edition, calling us ‘hooligans and thugs’, and reserving special indignation to report the ‘horrific experience of their innocent reporter’. As innocent as Robert Maxwell or Rupert Murdoch! The sooner this nasty, tatty little rag goes bankrupt the better for the people of South Shields!
The Tories are going in for the kill, announcing the closure of Frances Colliery in Scotland with the loss of 500 jobs, with more to go if the stike continues. Bastards!!
In Uncategorized on January 30, 2010 at 6:18 pm
I received a letter through the post from the manager of Westoe Colliery appealing for me to return to work so that the pit can be saved. Apparently it is in danger of being flooded so badly we won’t be able to save it if we don’t return to work NOW! Bollocks,it’s blackmail. They’ve tried bribery and that didn’t work so now it’s blackmail. The letter ends,’Remember, it is YOUR JOB and YOUR future at stake and requires YOUR decision NOW!’ The bin got my response!
The Lodge has asked for our Safety Rep to be allowed down the pit to assess the situation but the manager, predictably, has refused. The fact of the matter is its not us he wants back, it’s the Deputies in the NACOD’s union because without them he can’t get the scabs back down the pit. NACOD’s have so far refused to cross our picket lines because they know they will have to work with us once the strike is over, but that doesn’t mean anything to the NCB and they are really being put under pressure. I’ve no sympathy with the bastards at all because if they’d joined the strike at the start we would have won this bloody strike months ago!
As expected, the NCB have refused to talk to the NUM unless they agree not to oppose pit closures. How can the bastards expect us to do that after all the shit we’ve been through? Bastards are just building up mens hopes and then crushing them in the hope more men will return to work in despair. 5,000 scabs now in the North East.
Four scab buses went into Westoe this morning and three men were arrested in the push. The pigs just grab anyone they can catch. The NCB are claiming 185 men working at Westoe. They neglect to mention that 100 of these are in the COSA union, 53 mechanics and the remainder genuine NUM scabs. Hardly a massive return to work from a workforce of over 2000 men! I’m proud of the Westoe pickets and always will be!
In Uncategorized on October 25, 2009 at 11:37 am
The bastards have stolen NUM funds because we refused to pay their unjust fine of £200,000 for contempt! Contempt is all I have for them! Surely now we’ll get the support we were promised at Brighton from the rest of the unions? If they let the Tories get away with this, then they’re allowing the same fate for themselves in the future, and that will be disasterous for the whole of the working class. The NACOD’s leadership must be really thick if they can’t see the significance of the timing of this attack, straight after their sell out. The sooner they realise that they’ve won no concessions at all the sooner we can begin the long overdue attack on Thatcher’s plan to decimate the mining industry and the NUM as a fighting union.
I spoke to the Newcastle University Miners Support Group about what we are attempting to do with the kitchen and the financial support we need. They’ve promised to do all they can, which is all we can ask for.
More people are starting to use the kitchen, which is very encouraging. The word is starting to spread about what we are trying to do, especially today when people came to the kitchen to collect their £2 foos tokens and saw at first hand what is going on. A lot of them expressed approval about the notice on the wall showing donations, which is gratifying because some of the Womens Support Group said it was a bad idea. We also make all our account books available on the table so people can see exactly how the money is being spent. People are beginning to ask why the WSG can’t do the same, which has really pissed them off. They’ve accused us of causing problems but they should realise there are a lot of vicious rumours circulating about them which does nothing for morale.
In Uncategorized on October 24, 2009 at 7:06 pm
Oh gosh, what a surprise, NACOD’s have called off their threatened strike. Traitorous shitbags!
A coachload of our men were prevented from attending a ‘No Sell Out’ demonstration in Sheffield by the pigs. They were ordered to turn around and return to Durham. Oh gosh, what a surprise, who would have thought it?
As a result the soup kitchen was quiet today, unlike yesterday when we had a meeting with the Wives Support Group. They have changed their minds and are now totally against the kitchen, even though Gary and me are prepared to run it ourselves. They also took offence when we suggested they should be more open about their finances to prevent criticism. We tried to be constructive but got nowhere and they left. This doesn’t bode well for the future if we can’t work together. One positive thing is that Marion and Alison want to help because they are bored with just giving out food tokens. Gary and me went with them to the Trustees Saving Bank on Boldon Lane and we’ve opened an account in the name of, ‘Westoe Miners Soup Kitchen’, casting originality to the wind. I am Secretary, Gary is the Chairman, Marion is Treasurer, and Alison is Assistant Secretary. We have £230 to start off with which should keep us going for a few weeks.
Today Marion and Alison brought along Florrie, who must be in her sixties, and is the most fantastic worker I’ve ever met. She looks frail but works harder than anyone else and puts Gary and me to shame! She told me a great story about the 1972 atrike. Her husband and two sons, Norman and John, worked at Westoe, and when she was out shopping one day in the local shop a woman made a nasty comment about miners. Florrie told her to watch her mouth and warned her not to repeat her remarks or she would stick her in the freezer! Foolishly the woman repeated her insults and Florrie carried out her threat and upended the woman straight into the chest freezer. The woman ran home to fetch her husband, and when he arrived Florrie threatened to do the same to him if he didn’t shut up! They stormed out of the shop. I mention this story to show the wonderful spirit and pride of a fantastic woman, staunch in her support of the miners. She is an inspiration to us all and she typifies the fighting spirit of the mining communities.
In Uncategorized on October 16, 2009 at 4:16 pm
I travelled up to Newcastle today with two women from the Westoe Miners Wives Support Group, Alison and Marion. We’d been invited to attend a meeting at Newcastle Poly because the Tory students were going to try and reverse the decision to support the miners made at the start of the strike. During the course of the meeting, when Alison was nervously speaking and asking for support for the children, one of the Tories stood up and shouted, ‘If you want money why don’t you send your husband back to work?. I just saw him disappear under a load of students keen to show him the error of his ways! He was lucky because if I’d had a chance to get at him I would have put up a much stronger argument! Anyway, the good news is the Tories were well defeated so the support stays. We got £17 from a collection. We also paid a visit to Newcastle University and were given another £125. Alison and Marion were well chuffed.
The kitchen will now open next Monday at Harton Miners Welfare because we also received two cheques from comrades in Manchester SWP for £110. Their support throughout the strike has been magnificent and they’ve played a key role in establishing the credibility of the SWP at Westoe.
NACOD’s have called a strike to start on the 25th after talks with the NCB broke down. If they really mean it why not call the strike for tomorrow? I think it’s so they can give the NCB time to buy them off. We’ll see.
In Uncategorized on October 3, 2009 at 2:34 pm
As expected, the jellybacks in NACOD’s have gone into talks with the NCB through ACAS. It’s a bloody tragedy! After recording a strike vote that surprised us all the bastards have backed down. They could’ve done what we’ve so far failed to do, make Thatcher do another U – turn, and stop the scabs in Notts and elsewhere. I hope I’m wrong but I think they’ll reach a compromise.
Gary, Keith and me had a meeting this afternoon at Gary’s house. It was a useful exercise and one we hope to repeat on a weekly basis. The most important thing to come out of the meeting is our decision to reopen the soup kitchen at Harton which closed during the summer due to lack of funds and customers. Our first task is to start building up a reserve of cash to ensure we can keep it running once we start. We think it will be excellent because it can serve as a focal point for the pickets and be a place where everyone can discuss their problems. At least it will give me something constructive to do.
Today is the 10th birthday of my youngest daughter, Sasha, and thanks to Kath’s final pay packet we were able to give her a nice present, which is more than most striker’s kids will get. We’ve been lucky and it’s a pity Kath can’t appreciate that.
In Uncategorized on September 27, 2009 at 7:48 pm
Wonders will never cease! Those spineless bastards at NACODs have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action, 82% in favour, in response to the NCB’s threat to stop their wages for not crossing picket lines. Let’s wait and see if they have the guts to carry it out.
It’s been a bad week because Kath has lost her job and today was her last day at work. She is devastated and can’t understand why she didn’t get her own job. Oh well, we’re in the same boat as the rest of the striking miners now and we’ll just have to get on with it.
Also, I’ve been unable to get to the Westoe picket line because of my bail conditions, and the whole area is awash with pigs. Too risky!
In Uncategorized on May 3, 2009 at 11:12 am
Tonto Jackson was arrested this morning for having the misfortune to be standing too close to a lorry which had its windscreen smashed. The pigs just grabbed him because he was the nearest person to the crime. He’s been charged with using ‘foul and abusive language’ because he swore when the pigs roughly grabbed him.
After Tonto’s arrest we tried a new tactic, walking in front of the scab lorries at a snails pace, linking arms so the pigs couldn’t arrest us easily. It worked brilliantly but despite us shouting for more men, not enough of us were prepared to take part. The pigs charged into us and tried to break our ranks, and even though we put up a brave struggle we couldn’t stop them achieving their aim. I was linked in with Arthur Oxley from Vane Tempest Colliery. I know Arthur from Broad Left meetings and you couldn’t pick a better man to be standing next to in a fight because he’s well over six foot tall with a build to match. He was my saviour this morning because he refused to let go of me as I was dragged to the side of the road. The look on the young pigs face when he realised he was on his own with us was a real picture. Arthur said, ‘What are you going to do now son because you can’t arrest us both?’ He took the wise decision to let us go and beat a hasty retreat. The battle was over but the war isn’t won and I’m pretty certain the two of us will have to be on our guard from now on.
The pigs made 10 arrests this morning and the mood of the men seems to be getting more militant, thank god. The Westoe men are getting really wound up by the lads we’ve had arrested. The pies arrived a bit late because of Tonto’s arrest, and this has really done the trick in terms of ending Westoe passivity. You have to laugh.
Kath is very worried I am going to be arrested after I told her about this mornings events. I’ve told her not to worry because even if I am arrested I’ll only get fined. She remains unconvinced that what we are doing is lawful and this has caused even more friction between us. I feel she is allowing herself to be influenced by the media who seem to be engaged in a daily propaganda campaign against the NUM, and Arthur Scargill in particular. I feel she is coming round to our side but at the moment she still needs to be convinced we can win. We can win if we can convince the rest of the trade union movement of the justice of our fight. If only they would black coal and refuse to use imported oil. If only the scabs would see sense and that their jobs are at risk as well. If only NACODS would join us we would be guaranteed victory. It’s been 8 weeks and no sign of an end in sight so Tony Cliff has been proved right so far. This isn’t ’72 and ’74, mores the pity. Anyway, attitudes on the picket line seem to be hardening and Westoe has gained quite a few new pickets but we still need a lot more!
In Uncategorized on April 12, 2009 at 11:49 am
I spent a wasted day going around Newcastle with Geoff Price though I can’t blame him. It’s been spending the day with him that has finally made me decide to join the SWP. He has obviously been aware of my interest in the SWP and has tried everything he knows to turn me against them. He calls them a bunch of middle class students who are only committed until they finish college then they will suddenly become middle class again. I think this is a really insulting and narrow point of view. There are thousands of working class kids who are in colleges and universities who are well aware of the evils of capitalism and want to change it. Militant are all hot air and don’t appear to understand the slogan, ‘unity is strength’. Neither do NACODS who yesterday narrowly voted to join the strike, but not by the two thirds majority required so they stay at work. If they came out the strike would be won! Why can’t they see that?