This morning saw the ‘Coal Not Dole’ march and rally organised by our Lodge officials. It was a very disappointing turn out, only a few thousand people, but it could have been so much better if they’d told us about it and allowed us, the rank and file, to have some part in the organisation. All the Durham lodges were represented, plus a couple from Yorkshire and Kent, but when you consider the coal mining traditions of South Shields, which once boasted 3 pits, with even more in the close vicinity, then it was disappointing. I suppose that because the town has lost most of its industries and has a high level of unemployment, apathy is part of life. It’ll be a hell of a lot worse if Westoe ever closes!
We marched from the Armstrong Hall to the Bents Park on the seafront, and if anything, the rally was more of a disappointment than the march. The speakers were abysmal. Our Lodge Secretary introduced Jack Taylor of Yorkshire Area NUM as; ‘A future legend of the trade union movement’. Leg end is more like it! It was him who signed the deal to allow coal into Scunthorpe steelworks allowing them to break productivity records! He was full of empty rhetoric and received only lukewarm applause. Jim Slater was applauded only because of the seaman’s support, and because he’s from Shields, as his speech was boring, and only Jack Collins of Kent NUM came out with any credibility.
It’s typical of the total lack of organisation at Westoe that we couldn’t even hold a decent rally. Pathetic!