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1992: Thousands of miners to lose their jobs
The government is planning to close a third of Britain's deep coal mines, with the loss of 31,000 jobs.

The President of the Board of Trade, Michael Heseltine, has announced up to 31 out of 50 remaining deep mines face closure.

Mr Heseltine promised an extra 1bn from the Treasury to meet the cost of redundancies and help mining communities.

Arthur Scargill, president of the National Union of Mineworkers urged miners to fight the government and called the layoffs a "savage, brutal act of vandalism".

Robin Cook, Labour's trade spokesman, said the cuts were a "bad decision" not only for the local communities but for tax payers and electricity consumers who would pick up the inevitable costs.

But any suggestion that the UK should follow Germany's lead in preserving its coalfields with extra subsidies was dismissed by Mr Heseltine.

Industry would not be made more competitive by "forcing costs on to them above the market price," he said.

Mr Heseltine said the decision was a necessity born out of the continuing economic recession and the demise of the Cold War, and intimated other industries such as shipbuilding might also suffer.

The cuts take effect immediately for six pits, which close at the end of the week, affecting 6,000 miners.

By March 1993 only 19 mines will be left, grouped in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire areas, although a new mine is expected to open in 1994.

Stark warning

Miners tempted to answer Arthur Scargill's calls for militancy have been issued a stark warning.

Those taking any form of industrial action will lose redundancy entitlements worth up to 37,000.

Chairman of British Coal Neil Clarke has said the cuts would be "grievous", especially since productivity in the industry had more than doubled in the last six years.

But the decision was a consequence of the need to reduce coal output by a minimum of 25,000 million tonnes a year, he said.

Since the privatisation of the power industry in 1990, coal has been displaced by cheaper imports and the expansion in gas supplied electricity generators.

Gas stations are replacing coal stations run by the two major electricity generators National Power and Power Gen, and the new freedom of electricity boards to set up their own gas power stations.

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Miners have been warned against taking industrial action

In Context
In Context
At its peak during World War II there were over one million miners working in 958 mines, which steadily declined after post-war nationalisation.

The discovery of North Sea gas and increased imports saw consumption of domestic coal start to fall. Major pit closures led miners to a series of strikes.

The fall of the Conservative government in 1974 is widely attributed to the strength of the miners' unions and striking workforce.

In 1984/85 Mr Scargill led the miners in a year-long divisive and ultimately unsuccessful strike against the Thatcher government.

British Coal was privatised shortly after the 1992 cuts.

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