State of Emergency 1972: #OnThisDay

On 9th of February 1972 A State of Emergency was declared in the UK due to the effects of the Miner’ Strike. 

coal miner

The Miner’s Strike began on 9th of January 1972.

The UK’s industrial strength had been built on the back of coal miners and cheap raw materials brought in from the colonies. As the colonies left the Empire and became independent states, coal was still vital to keep UK homes warm and lit.

By the 1970s miners wages had fallen below that of the average worker in manufacturing.

Pay negotiations collapsed between the coal miners union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Coal Board (NCB).

This was the first official strike by coal miners in the UK since 1926.

During the strike railway workers in solidarity with coal miners refused to transport coal to the many power stations which still relied on coal.

On the 3rd of February miner Freddie Matthews, whilst on picket duty, was killed by a lorry driven by a non union driver attempting to get past the strikers.

The weather was cold, there were power outages and blackouts. The Prime Minister at the time , Conservative Ted Heath, eventually declared a State of Emergency. This gives the Government power to take action without needing any agreement from Parliament. It is usually used by governments during huge environmental disasters or rebellions.

This was a time when trade unions were supportive of one another and the coal miners benefited from solidarity from other workers.

On the 19th of February wage increases were agreed.

1 reply »

  1. For the benefit of all those Brexiteers, these were the supposed ‘great days’ of British Industry!!! My recollection was three day weeks, shoddy manufacturing especially in the car industry, shipyards and heavy engineering that was on strike more than they were at work and more. Not a dazzling prospect to look forward too.

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