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 June 13, 2009 at 11:04 am
What a difference a day makes! I can hardly believe what has happened today and it has restored my faith in the strike and my fellow pickets. My phone hardly stopped ringing this afternoon with my friends calling to tell me what happened, even though the Lodge Chairman had asked them not to because he wanted to ring me himself. He finally rang me at 5.15pm and I really enjoyed his discomfort as he informed me of the decision that had been made.
What happened was that Gary Marshall spoke to all the pickets in the new soup kitchen at Harton Miners Welfare when they returned from the morning picket. He told them that the food they were eating, and had been eating for weeks, had been paid for in part by money he and I had been collecting. He asked if anyone could cite a single case of dishonesty against me, and then went on to detail my personal committment to the strike. He told them about what the Lodge Committee had done to me and finished by urging everyone to get down to the union meeting in the Armstrong Hall to speak in my defence. He said I was being witch hunted for being a member of the SWP.
The pickets all got into their cars and left in convoy, stopping traffic, honking their horns and generally making a noise as they drove down Stanhope Road. They stormed into the Armstrong Hall and shocked the officials on the platform. When they found that the minutes had already been read they demanded they be read again. A vote was taken, won, and the minutes were re – read. When the minute concerning me was read out Gary jumped up and proposed that all charges against me be dropped and this was quickly seconded, but before a vote could be taken a heated debate developed with the end result being that the proposal to say that I wouldn’t have to appear in front of the Durham Executive but that I was still banned from collecting funds and given a warning as to my future conduct. This was passed almost unanimously and caused visible displeasure to the platform. The bastards were seething! They were even more mad when a proposal was passed to give £3,000 to the Women’s Support Group. The platform protested strongly but were easily defeated by the wishes of the majority. This was a great victory for the pickets because for the first time they could see that THEY made the decisions, the rank and file and not the so – called leaders on the platform.
I felt so elated about what had happened that I went along to our newly formed South Tyneside SWP held in the North Eastern pub in South Shields. We have split from Newcastle because that branch was becoming too big and and people were able to hide from being actively involved. We are very optimistic about the future, especially Phil Turner, who only a few months ago was the only member in town. Now there are five more members, all Westoe miners and hopefully more will join us in the future. The meeting was excellent because everyone was buzzing from the events of today, especially Gary, and we all feel a lot more confident that the ideas of the SWP really do work in practice.
Kath is pissed off again because I think she was hoping to see more of me.However, she is also relieved the charges against me have been dropped. A good day!
In Uncategorized on April 25, 2009 at 11:17 am
Our first lot of pies cost £13 and we delivered them to the pickets at Tow Law using ‘Tonto’ Jackson’s car. The lads really appreciated it, though they still didn’t do anything more than shout a bit when the scab lorries went in and out.
A meeting was held in the Armstrong Hall to discuss the idea of forming a Women’s Support Group, and to my great surprise about 200 women turned up. The meeting was organised by Margaret Reavey, a Militant supporter and one of the few who have spoken to me since I joined the SWP. She invited me to speak about fundraising, which I did.
The outcome of this first meeting is the formation of the Westoe Miners Wives Support Group, with Anne Kendrick elected as Secretary, and Ann Hall as Treasurer. Unfortunately their first task is to find somewhere to work from because the Lodge officials have refused to let them use the Armstrong Hall because, ‘it will be too noisy with a load of kids running around’. Honestly, they are a fuckin’ joke and totally out of touch with reality! Thank god we don’t have to rely on them to win this strike!