At a mass meeting held at the Armstrong Hall, South Shields this morning over 1, 000 men voted to come out on strike in protest against the pit closures announced by the NCB. It was the best attended union meeting I have ever been to and everyone present was given the opportunity to air their views, some brave men even speaking against the strike. I, of course spoke in support before the Lodge Secretary summed up the main events that led up to todays vote. He reminded us of what McGregor had done to British Steel and the thousands of jobs lost as a result, especially in Consett and Jarrow.
After a lengthy debate someone proposed a rider to the main motion asking the National Executive to hold a national ballot and this was passed, though a sizeable minority of us were against a national ballot. To be honest, I don’t want one because I feel we would lose it and I feel its too important of an issue to be decided by an aging workforce who won’t lose as much as us younger men. All we have facing us is a life on the dole if Thatcher gets her way because she won’t stop at 5 pits, more like 70! Anyway, Scargill is right when he says it isn’t our job to sell, it belongs to future generations.
At Westoe we have already had a taste of the new no listen NCB. Back in September the new manager at Westoe decided everyone was going to have to do the 10pm shift on a rota system ,whereas it had been done by men who liked doing nightshift. He just had posters put up around the pit stating that the new arrangement would start on September 26th and refused to negotiate with the union. He also threatened to cut jobs if we didn’t comply.So, we had a big union meeting and voted to strike. We were undermined by the Mechanics union who refused to join us because they already had to work nightshift. I could understand that but NOT their unions advice to members to cross our picket lines. It caused a lot of aggro, especially when one idiot drove his car at high speed through our line. The police arrived in force and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. We tried to make it light hearted by chanting, ‘Zulu! Zulu!’ and trying different formations to charge into the police.
We won that strike and the manager withdrew his demands but I doubt it will be that easy this time.