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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 08:59 GMT
'What is a scab?'
The formation of the breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers in Nottinghamshire during the 1984/5 miners strike broke the monopoly of the National Union of Mineworkers.

Neil Greatrex: "They say let bygones be bygones"
Twenty years on, Neil Greatrex, now national president of the UDM, tells of the animosity that still remains between those who went on strike and those who did not.

When your father dies without talking to you for six years, it shows it wasn't just those bastards in the NUM affected by the strike.

He wouldn't speak to me because I was against Scargill; he would only speak to me through my brothers.

What is a scab? My interpretation of a scab is somebody crossing a picket line but there wasn't anything official about those picket lines set up in Nottinghamshire.

I have seen full grown men, hard men, crying their bloody eyes out because of the fear of going across them. People are never, ever going to forget that.

Family threatened

My daughter Colette was 10 at the time and I stopped her going out of the house. We didn't want to tell her somebody was threatening to kill her; threatening to burn our house down.

They threatened my wife, Sheila. One day 80 people gathered outside our house but I drove into crowd and they dispersed.

When people say to me 'Did you convert to the Tory government in 1984?' it really tugs my heartstrings because I didn't
We had a copper as a next door neighbour and he put a sign in his window saying 'Greatrex lives next door' because he was sick of bricks going through his window.

And they say let bygones be bygones. It is never going to happen, the bitterness is too ingrained.

At the time, I would think to myself: 'Am I doing right? Should I be doing this?'

Working miner's home which was firebombed
Working miners' homes and lives were threatened
It didn't get any easier as time went on but once you have made your mind up there is no going back on it.

The reason that Nottinghamshire didn't go on strike was there was never a national ballot.

NUM rules said a national strike needs a national ballot.

When we had our ballot in Nottinghamshire two or three weeks into the strike, 78% said no to a strike.

I am still convinced that if there had been a national vote, Nottinghamshire miners would have supported the strike.

When I got the phone call that there were pickets at Bentinck, I thought a lot of the lads would give in to it.

But Bentinck was the only colliery that worked throughout strike and I'm proud of that.

Thatcher government

When people say to me 'Did you convert to the Tory government in 1984?' it really tugs my heartstrings because I didn't.

If the NUM had been united, Thatcher would have been defeated but she would have come back. She had made a political decision to get shot of coal.

The NUM was the greatest union this country had ever seen - we used to feel lucky to be part of it
When the government saw there was a split they played on it. They brought in armoured vehicles and all sorts to get people into work.

But I think we were right; I think our fight was right: We redemocratised our union.

In my house I have got two long term certificates: a 20 year certificate from the NUM and one from 20 years of the UDM.

People say I am mad to keep the NUM one but it was the greatest trade union this country had ever seen. We used to feel a bit lucky to be part of the NUM.




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