Recent news items

Unions commemorate “the Battle of Saltley Gates”

posted 12 Feb 2012, 14:23 by pete jackson

Unite commemorates the events of forty years ago when the trade union movement won a tremendous victory in what is now known as “the Battle of Saltley Gates”.
 
At the time, the National Union of Mineworkers was in the middle of a national strike against the then Conservative government’s pay restraint policies. The NUM had been picketing the Saltley Coke Works in Birmingham in the face of an aggressive and large police presence from the West Midlands Constabulary.
 
Speaking at a rally today (Friday, 10 February), Tony Burke, Unite assistant general secretary, will say: “This was a tremendous victory, not just for the NUM, but also for the whole trade union movement. This showed that when workers stand together, as the brave workers did 40 years ago, industrial disputes can be won.”
 
Drawing a parallel with the current situation, Tony Burke added: “Forty years on, hundreds of thousands of workers in the public services are faced with pay restraint, cuts to their pensions and job losses. Construction workers are also under attack by employers who are seeking to scrap their national agreements and impose new contracts.
 
“That is why it is vital that workers get the full support of the trade union movement to defend their hard won pay and conditions and fight back against these austerity measures and greedy bosses.”

BBC Midlands Today

posted 11 Feb 2012, 02:49 by pete jackson

Today Programme

posted 11 Feb 2012, 02:38 by pete jackson

The piece begins around 1hr 21mins into iplayer program.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01bmq28/Today_10_02_2012/

Morning Star: 'We lit a flame and showed the way'

posted 11 Feb 2012, 02:35 by pete jackson

Former miners' leader Arthur Scargill recounted his fellow workers' "march into history" today as trade unionists marked 40 years since the Battle of Saltley Gate.

The ex-National Union of Mineworkers president addressed around 100 members and retired workers gathered in Birmingham to commemorate the event.

Standing outside the derelict Saltley Coke Works, Mr Scargill said the standoff was a critical point in the 1972 miners' strike, with the works' engineers on the fence as miners fought police on a picket line at the front gates.

Mr Scargill - then a Barnsley delegate - said he had told the engineers' unions they had a choice: "You can either stand on the sidewalk and watch what's happening, or you can join us and march into history."

Around 30,000 engineers launched a national strike and 10,000 marched on Saltley - "to the eternal credit of the workers in Birmingham."

"We lit a flame and we showed the way forward," he said.

The speech resonated with present-day union leaders. Unite's Tony Burke said workers in public services and construction today were under attack just as the miners were 40 years ago.

It was "vital" that unions gave full support to fighting funding cuts and attacks on pay and conditions, he said.

RMT leader Bob Crow said the battle showed workers could achieve "extraordinary things."

"If we can recapture the spirit and solidarity of Saltley Gate, we can stop this latest Tory-led government's attack on the working class dead in its tracks," he said.

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/115279

Daily Mirror: Arthur Scargill leads rally to mark 40th anniversary of key battle in miners’ strike

posted 11 Feb 2012, 02:33 by pete jackson

Arthur Scargill today marked the 40th anniversary of a key victory in the 1972 miners’ strike.

Now aged 74, the former National Union of Mineworkers president said he had vivid memories of his role in the Battle of Saltley Gate, which saw at least 15,000 Birmingham engineers walk out to support a picket by striking miners.

Around 100 trade unionists, many carrying banners, gathered near the site of the long-defunct Saltley Coke Works to commemorate the events of February 10 1972.

Addressing the rally, Mr Scargill recalled how he had secured the support of local engineering union members in the days before February 10 - when the police were finally forced to close the gates of the coke works.

Mr Scargill - who was then a member of the union's Yorkshire area executive - told the crowd: "I said 'You have got a choice - you can either stand on the sidewalk and watch what's happening or you can join us and march into history'.

"To the eternal credit of the workers in Birmingham, they joined the miners on the 10th of February."

Mr Scargill added that the events being commemorated had crystallised everything he believed in as a trade unionist, showing what working people could achieve if they were prepared to come to the assistance of workers in different industries struggling in a just cause.

"We lit a flame and we showed the way forward," he said, adding a call for the lessons learned in 1972 to be "translated" into the modern era.

The ex-union leader, a coalface worker at Woolley Colliery near Barnsley at the time of the 1972 strike, also recalled how the local chief constable had agreed to four demands, including a request to borrow a loudhailer because his own megaphone was broken.

Calling on trade unionists to oppose the coalition's "attacks" on the NHS and the education system, Mr Scargill said: "The lesson of Saltley in 1972 was that you will not win by compromise - you will win by fighting back.

"The workers who turned out on that day lit a beacon - they showed the way that working people can bring about change."

Also present at the commemoration was former Yorkshire NUM vice-president Ken Capstick, and Unite's assistant general secretary, Tony Burke.

Mr Capstick told the rally he felt privileged to be invited to speak near the site of the historic protest.

The 70-year-old, who was a branch delegate at Wakefield's Parkhill pit in 1972, said: "We are here to thank the working people of Birmingham who turned out and marched on those infamous gates."

Although it was right and proper to celebrate the anniversary, Mr Capstick told the crowd it was also necessary to remember that "the enemy never sleeps".

Britain was currently facing the greatest class robbery it had seen over the past 200 years, claimed Mr Capstick, who singled out the global banking industry for particular criticism.

He told the event: "They (bankers) have wrecked the world's economy and they made Las Vegas look like a haven of moderation. Working people are not the perpetrators of the economic crisis, they are the victims of it."

The rally, organised by Birmingham Trades Council, was also addressed by factory worker Norman Goodwin, who took part in the mass picket.

Mr Goodwin, then a shop steward with the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, said: "It was a massive class action which we are always going to recall.

"No machinery started and at 7.30 the bell rang and we walked out - everyone walked out. We won through class solidarity."

At the time of the protest, the NUM was striking against the then Conservative government's pay restraint policies.

Mr Burke told the rally: "This was a tremendous victory, not just for the NUM, but also for the whole trade union movement.

"This showed that when workers stand together, as the brave workers did 40 years ago, industrial disputes can be won."

Drawing a parallel with the current situation, Mr Burke added: "Forty years on, hundreds of thousands of workers in the public services are faced with pay restraint, cuts to their pensions and job losses.

"Construction workers are also under attack by employers who are seeking to scrap their national agreements and impose new contracts.

"That is why it is vital that workers get the full support of the trade union movement to defend their hard won pay and conditions and fight back against these austerity measures."

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/arthur-scargill-leads-rally-to-mark-681066

Birmingham Mail video: Arthur Scargill recalls Battle of Saltley Gate and calls for reopening of 150 coal mines

posted 11 Feb 2012, 02:27 by pete jackson

http://www.birminghammail.net/_services/ajax/ajax_controller.cfm?event=kyteURL&t=video&u=channels/407148/1600988

UNION legend Arthur Scargill returned to the Birmingham site of his most famous victory exactly 40 years to the day – and called for up to 150 UK mines to be re-opened.

The veteran NUM hardliner, whose fiery oratory helped trigger a walkout by 30,000 Birmingham engineers and ensured triumph for miners at the Battle of Saltley Gate on February 10, 1972, retraced his steps with a rallying cry for more “working-class solidarity.”

And Scargill, now 74, called for mineworkers at the region’s last remaining colliery Daw Mill, near Coventry, currently under threat of possible closure, to remain “defiant”.

He recalled the Saltley Battle, when a human blockade by 15,000 marchers brought the closure of the last remaining fuel depot still open in the UK, forcing the Government to cave in and award the miners a 21 per cent pay rise.

“To their eternal credit, the workers of Birmingham on that day turned out and demonstrated their support for miners.

“Forty years ago, I stood on this spot among 15,000 Birmingham workers who were fed up with seeing the miners battered.

“We didn’t want pound notes, we wanted them out on strike to give us physical support in a struggle which we had to win.

“Workers turned out in force and secured a victory which went down in history. On that day everything I believed in as a trade unionist and socialist crystallised.”

The former NUM leader told the Mail the UK’s plentiful coal reserves could be used to stop spending billions of pounds on imports.

“We may have to turn back to Britain’s coal reserves, of which we have got 1,000 years worth. We need a sensible energy policy and the re-opening of mines that were closed. It’s as easy as ABC – you are talking about 100 to 150 pits.”

In a message to hundreds of Daw Mill miners facing an uncertain future he said: “You will not save the mining industry by compromise. It is only by defiance that we will bring about change.”

Guardian: Arthur Scargill joins Battle of Saltley Gate 40th anniversary celebration

posted 11 Feb 2012, 02:22 by pete jackson

Former National Union of Mineworkers leader Arthur Scargill joined fellow trade unionists on Friday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a key victory during the 1972 miners' strike.

Now aged 74, the ex-NUM president said he had vivid memories of his role in the Battle of Saltley Gate, which saw at least 15,000 Birmingham engineers walk out in support of a picket by striking miners.

Around 100 trade unionists, many carrying banners, gathered near the site of the long-defunct Saltley Coke Works to commemorate the events of 10 February 1972. Addressing the rally, Scargill recalled how he had secured the support of engineering union members in the days before 10 February when the police were finally forced to close the gates of the coke works.

Scargill, who was then a member of the union's Yorkshire area executive, told the crowd: "I said 'You have got a choice – you can either stand on the sidewalk and watch what's happening or you can join us and march into history'.

"To the eternal credit of the workers in Birmingham, they joined the miners on the 10th of February."

Scargill said that the events being commemorated had crystallised everything he believed in as a trade unionist, showing what working people could achieve if they were prepared to come to the assistance of workers in different industries struggling in a just cause.

"We lit a flame and we showed the way forward," he said, adding a call for the lessons learned in 1972 to be translated into the modern era.

The ex-union leader, a coalface worker at Woolley colliery near Barnsley at the time of the 1972 strike, also recalled how the local chief constable had agreed to four demands, including a request from Scargill to borrow a loudhailer because his own megaphone was broken.

Calling on trade unionists to oppose the coalition's "attacks" on the NHS and the education system, Scargill said: "The lesson of Saltley in 1972 was that you will not win by compromise – you will win by fighting back.

"The workers who turned out on that day lit a beacon - they showed the way that working people can bring about change."

Also present at the commemoration was former Yorkshire NUM vice-president Ken Capstick, and Unite's assistant general secretary, Tony Burke. Capstick told the rally he felt privileged to be invited to speak near the site of the historic protest.

The 70-year-old, who was a branch delegate at Wakefield's Parkhill pit in 1972, said: "We are here to thank the working people of Birmingham who turned out and marched on those infamous gates."

Although it was right and proper to celebrate the anniversary, Capstick told the crowd it was also necessary to remember that "the enemy never sleeps".

Britain was currently facing the greatest class robbery it had seen over the past 200 years, claimed Capstick, who singled out the global banking industry for particular criticism.

He told the event: "They [bankers] have wrecked the world's economy and they made Las Vegas look like a haven of moderation.

"Working people are not the perpetrators of the economic crisis, they are the victims of it."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/feb/10/arthur-scargill-battle-saltley-gate-40th-anniversary?newsfeed=true

Yorkshire Post: Let’s carry battles of 1972 into the modern era: Arthur Scargill

posted 11 Feb 2012, 02:18 by pete jackson

FORMER Yorkshire miners’ leader Arthur Scargill joined fellow trade unionists today to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a key victory during the 1972 miners’ strike.

Now aged 74, the ex-National Union of Mineworkers president said he had vivid memories of his role in the Battle of Saltley Gate, which saw at least 15,000 Birmingham engineers walk out to support a picket by striking miners.

Around 100 trade unionists, many carrying banners, gathered near the site of the long-defunct Saltley Coke Works to commemorate the events of February 10 1972.

Addressing the rally, Mr Scargill recalled how he had secured the support of local engineering union members in the days before February 10 - when the police were finally forced to close the gates of the coke works.

Mr Scargill, who was then a member of the union’s Yorkshire area executive, told the crowd: “I said ‘You have got a choice - you can either stand on the sidewalk and watch what’s happening or you can join us and march into history’.

“To the eternal credit of the workers in Birmingham, they joined the miners on the 10th of February.”

Mr Scargill added that the events being commemorated had crystallised everything he believed in as a trade unionist, showing what working people could achieve if they were prepared to come to the assistance of workers in different industries struggling in a just cause.

“We lit a flame and we showed the way forward,” he said, adding a call for the lessons learned in 1972 to be “translated” into the modern era.

The ex-union leader, a coalface worker at Woolley Colliery near Barnsley at the time of the 1972 strike, also recalled how the local chief constable had agreed to four demands, including a request to borrow a loudhailer because his own megaphone was broken.

Calling on trade unionists to oppose the coalition’s “attacks” on the NHS and the education system, Mr Scargill said: “The lesson of Saltley in 1972 was that you will not win by compromise - you will win by fighting back.

“The workers who turned out on that day lit a beacon - they showed the way that working people can bring about change.”

Also present at the commemoration was former Yorkshire NUM vice-president Ken Capstick, and Unite’s assistant general secretary, Tony Burke.

Mr Capstick told the rally he felt privileged to be invited to speak near the site of the historic protest.

The 70-year-old, who was a branch delegate at Wakefield’s Parkhill pit in 1972, said: “We are here to thank the working people of Birmingham who turned out and marched on those infamous gates.”

Although it was right and proper to celebrate the anniversary, Mr Capstick told the crowd it was also necessary to remember that “the enemy never sleeps”.

Britain was currently facing the greatest class robbery it had seen over the past 200 years, claimed Mr Capstick, who singled out the global banking industry for particular criticism.

He told the event: “They (bankers) have wrecked the world’s economy and they made Las Vegas look like a haven of moderation.

“Working people are not the perpetrators of the economic crisis, they are the victims of it.”

The rally, organised by Birmingham Trades Council, was also addressed by factory worker Norman Goodwin, who took part in the mass picket.

Mr Goodwin, then a shop steward with the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, said: “It was a massive class action which we are always going to recall.

“No machinery started and at 7.30 the bell rang and we walked out - everyone walked out. We won through class solidarity.”

At the time of the protest, the NUM was striking against the then Conservative government’s pay restraint policies.

Mr Burke told the rally: “This was a tremendous victory, not just for the NUM, but also for the whole trade union movement.

“This showed that when workers stand together, as the brave workers did 40 years ago, industrial disputes can be won.”

Drawing a parallel with the current situation, Mr Burke added: “Forty years on, hundreds of thousands of workers in the public services are faced with pay restraint, cuts to their pensions and job losses.

“Construction workers are also under attack by employers who are seeking to scrap their national agreements and impose new contracts.

“That is why it is vital that workers get the full support of the trade union movement to defend their hard won pay and conditions and fight back against these austerity measures.”

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/at-a-glance/main-section/let_s_carry_battles_of_1972_into_the_modern_era_arthur_scargill_1_4237022

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