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Monday, February 15, 1999 Published at 08:01 GMT


NUM to vote on pit strike

Miners are unhappy about pay levels

Members of the National Union of Mineworkers start voting on Monday on whether to strike over pay.

Their rivals in the Union of Democratic Mineworkers have already voted in favour of strike action against RJB Mining, the company that took over most of the coal industry when it was privatised.

The NUM, lead by Arthur Scargill, is normally more militant than the UDM so it is expected to vote to strike.

This could mean the prospect of the first stoppage in the coal industry since the great pit strike14 years ago, which, with much bitterness, led to the founding of the UDM.

There are now not many more than 10,000 miners working in the country's remaining 15 pits.

This winter's serious discontent stems from a squeeze on pay as power-station companies drive harder bargains with RJB for coal.

But some in the industry fear a strike could cause pit closures, particularly as some contracts are yet to be agreed.

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