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Close the Gates - the 1972 miners strike, Saltley Gate and the defeat of the Tories

posted 24 Dec 2011, 13:08 by pete jackson   [ updated 4 Jul 2015, 13:04 ]

New pamphlet by Bookmarks

On Thursday 10 February 1972 30,000 Birmingham engineers walked out on strike. They struck to deliver solidarity to striking miners. Up to

15,000 then marched to join 2,000 miners who were picketing Saltley Coke depot. The blockade forced the police, who had kept the depot open all week, to surrender and close the gates.

The victory at Saltley was the turning point in the miners’ strike. Militant picketing involving tens of thousands of miners had shut down power stations, docks and coke and coal depots. Power cuts forced the Tory government to call a state of emergency. Millions of workers were put on a three day week.

After seven weeks the government was defeated. The strike destroyed their incomes policy and led to a huge escalation of class struggle. The Tory government hobbled along until they were struck by a second miners strike in 1974. They called a general election under the slogan “Who runs the country, the unions or the government?”. The government lost.

Today, working people face a similar assault on their living conditions as their parents and grandparents did in 1972

The student protests in 2010 uncovered the bitterness simmering in society. In March 2011 750,000 people joined the biggest trade union demo in British history.

This introduction is being written on 30 November 2011, the day we saw 2.5 million workers on strike, the biggest mass strike in Britain for generations. The size, militancy and determination felt on the pickets, demos and rallies show that the sleeping giant, the British working class, has stirred.

Forty years on the Battle of Saltley carries powerful lessons for a working class that is once again on the march.

Chapters on: The early 70s, the miners, the engineers, the miners strike, the battle of Saltley Gate, the defeat of the Tory government, lessons for today.