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1984: Maltby picket sparks violence
Police and miners have clashed at a pit in South Yorkshire in one of the biggest mass pickets since the strike began.

At least 6,000 miners tried to stop NUM members working for a construction company entering Maltby Colliery near Rotherham.

The men are working for an outside company but were required to become members of the NUM for the duration of their contract, and the miners say they should observe picket lines.

There was a tense stand-off early in the morning as the pit-workers arrived to prevent seven construction workers entering the colliery.

Jeering

They were met by a force of 700 police officers with 500 reinforcements waiting close by - all dressed in full riot gear.

Two pickets and three officers were injured in the violence, and five miners were arrested on breach of the peace offences.

Some of the strikers tore bricks off a nearby wall to throw them at the police lines and jeered when ordered to stop.

One of the missiles hit a policeman, dislocating his shoulder.

The senior officer in charge, Chief Superintendent John Nesbitt said the picketing had been "very, very heavy and intense".

He told reporters the miners had fired an air rifle at them and used catapults to shoot marbles.

But the pickets alleged the police had been too heavy-handed and said some of their number had been beaten by the police.

The seven construction workers were eventually escorted safely onto the site.

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Police officers holding riot shields
At least 6,000 miners were confronted by a force of 700 police officers in riot gear

Police secure the peace at Maltby



In Context
NUM President Arthur Scargill called the miners out on strike in March 1984 when the Conservative government announced the closure of 20 uneconomic pits with the loss of 20,000 jobs.

The miners' militant leader did not put the matter to vote as he feared many union members would not support him.

The strike was characterised by violent clashes between pickets and the police.

The miners began returning to work in large numbers in February 1985 and a delegate conference of the NUM narrowly voted to abandon the strike in March.

The year-long action failed to halt the decline of mining in the UK.

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