ON THIS DAY    9 April      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1984: Dozens arrested in picket line violence

VIDEO : Report from the Babbington picket line

About 100 pickets have been arrested during violent clashes with police outside two working coal pits in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

The so-called "flying pickets" - striking miners bussed in from other parts of the country - targeted Cresswell colliery in Derbyshire and Babbington in Nottinghamshire.

Figures suggest 46 pits are still working out of a total of 176 across the country. Miners are fighting plans to close 20 pits.

Police at Cresswell say they were taken by surprise when around 1,000 pickets descended on the colliery.

Police criticised

Six officers and a miner were injured in what a spokesman described as "the worst violence we have had in Derbyshire since the strike began".

Several cars belonging to working miners had their windows smashed. One miner who apparently defied the pickets and went into work had the windows of his home smashed.

Despite the pickets, an estimated 60% of the nightshift still turned up for work and the colliery was able to operate.

At Babbington colliery, police faced 2,000 pickets and were pelted with stones when they made more than 60 arrests.

Seven officers needed treatment for cuts to the head and legs. One officer suffered an eye injury and a union spokesman was also hurt.

Less than half the normal shift of 200 men went into work, but the pit was able to continue production.

The violence comes on the eve of an emergency debate in the Commons on the police handling of the miners' dispute.

There have been complaints of heavy-handed tactics. Miners say plain clothes police have infiltrated picket lines and officers have also been turning away pickets thought likely to cause a breach of the peace.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has rejected criticism of officers.

She said: "They have to keep the right of miners to go to work open and they have done it marvellously."

In context
The miners' dispute lasted a year - although the NUM did not ballot members on strike action.

Mining pickets were successful in halting production at many pits. But forceful policing limited secondary action and large stockpiles of coal meant the miners did not have the same paralysing effect they had had on the economy in 1972.

As the strike wore on, there were violent scenes outside collieries which continued to work and at steel and power plants where pickets tried to halt production.

Talks were held on and off without success. The miners did not get the full backing of the TUC. Eventually they began drifting back to work with the promise of extra money before Christmas.

They voted for an official return to work in March 1985.

The end of the strike was widely seen as victory for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who did much during her time in office to curb the power of the unions.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |