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1972: Miners' strike turns off the lights

Many homes and businesses will be without electricity for up to nine hours a day from today, the Central Electricity Generating Board has announced.

Miners now into the sixth week of their strike over pay, have been picketing power stations and all other sources of fuel supply in an attempt to step up pressure on the Government.

From today, electricity will be switched off on a rota basis between 0700 and 2400 every day. It means consumers will face longer power cuts, up from six to nine hours.

The shortage of electricity is forcing more and more factories and businesses to close. The Government has already imposed a three day week and a report in today's Times newspaper claims 1.2 million workers have now been laid off.

Imperial Chemical Industries, one of the country's leading industries, has given a week's notice to all its 60,000 weekly-paid staff as a precautionary measure.

National dispute

Government figures show gas works are within a week of running out of power supplies.

Miners walked out on strike on 9 January in their first national dispute for 50 years. They are demanding a 9 a week pay rise on top of an average wage of 25.

The government offered a 7.9% deal - just below its unofficial 8% pay ceiling - but the National Union of Mineworkers refused to put it to the vote. The National Coal Board has since withdrawn the offer.

On 9 February a state of emergency was declared. Two days later a committee of inquiry was established under Lord Wilberforce to investigate the miners' demands.

All 289 pits in England and Wales are closed and the miners say they are prepared for a long fight.

In Context
At 0100 on 19 February a deal was finally reached. The 95m package agreed was below the 120m the National Coal Board said the miners were claiming.

The miners claimed they had wrung an extra 15 concessions from Number 10 over and above the Wilberforce inquiry recommendations.

They returned to work on 25 February among the highest paid in the working classes after a seven week stoppage.

Miners did not call a national strike again until March 1984. It lasted a year and was possibly the longest and most damaging dispute in Britain's industrial history.


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