ABSTRACT

The words could serve as a text for any of the controversies and bitter industrial and political confrontations which have swirled around the coal industry in the last hundred years, its basic questions - how coal should be used and to whose advantage - a matter of fierce and unresolved debate. The OPEC oil price had quadrupled, and the coal industry was once more recruiting extra men as it tried, and failed, to meet new urgent production targets. By the 1980s conditions had markedly improved with mechanisation, miners supplied with helmets and working overalls and boots by the Coal Board, and with subsidised transport and coal available. Politicians were constantly reminded of the power and the problems of coal. The Coal Board, with stocks of tied housing inherited from the old coal companies, was heavily involved in the arranging of accommodation and in some cases large encampments of caravans were set up.