ABSTRACT

The need for assistance from other unions had been recognised by the union before the strike even started. It had become traditional that at the onset of a dispute the miners called on the railway unions not to move coal. A letter was sent to the EEPTU at almost exactly the same time as to the TUC. A key factor was the attitude of British Rail management, and its decision to take what a number of other industries felt was a markedly soft line with railwaymen who refused to work coal trains. The biggest cuts were at Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire, traditionally supplied by the nearby Yorkshire coal field. Perhaps most important, a number of new burners had been installed in the big coal-fired power stations enabling them to replace coal with oil. At the start railwaymen refused to cross miners’ picket lines, and a line of coal trains backed up down the line.