My Labour Love Affair: Mineworkers, National Union

Photo from, George Orwell

(See also,) *European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), available on:

Mineworkers, National Union of (NUM):

‘The NUM was formed in 1945 as successor to the *Miners’ Federation of Great Britain. Following nationalisation in 1947, the coal industry expanded due to the economy’s reliance on coal as the sole indigenous energy source and the NUM’s membership grew from 533,000 in 1945 to 700,000 in 1955. However, between 1957 and 1970, hundreds of pits posed due to imports of cheap oil, and NUM membership fell from 681,000 to around 28,000. During 1969-70 a wave of unofficial strikes that expressed disillusionment with the coal industry’s decline, persuaded many miners that industrial action was a viable weapon to pursue their grievances. In 1972 and 1974 the NUM called all-out national strikes which successfully challenged the pay restraint policies of the Heath government and sent the miners back to the top of the industrial wages league. The Thatcher government’s pit closure in the early 1980’s provoked (perhaps deliberately) the miners’ strike of 1984-5. The miners’ defeat was linked to a split in the NUM and the emergence of the revival *Union of Democratic Mineworkers. Later pit closures have reduced the NUM from 180,000 members in 1984 to 4,000 working miners in 1998. Over the last 40 years, the NUM has seen a steady decline in its bargaining position and numerical strength due to the contraction of manufacturing industry and the state-sponsored expansion of oil, gas, and nuclear power stations. From 1945, the NUM has been Britain’s most militant trade union, its national strikes of 1972 and 1974 contributing to the defeat of Heath’s government. However, the once mighty NUM was then effectively broken by Conservative governments as part of their campaign to subdue the British trade union movement’.

(See also,) *European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), available on:

From, John Ramsden, Professor of Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London.

References: Michael Crick, ‘Scargill and the Miners’, London, 1984.

References: Andrew Richards, ‘Miners On Strike: Class Solidarity and Division in Britain’, Oxford, 1996.


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