|On 9 January
1972 the British miners went on strike for the first time since 1926.
The strike lasted for seven weeks and 135 pits closed in south Wales.
A state of emergency was declared and to economise on electricity
Edward Heath's government had to reduce the working week to three days.
As a result of the strike, the miners' wages were increased, becoming among
the highest among the British working class.
||By 4 February 1974 the miners' situation had deteriorated and a national
miners strike was called again. This strike lasted four weeks. A state of emergency
and a three-day working week were once again declared. The Prime Minister, Edward Heath, called
a General Election hoping that the electorate would support the Government's
attempts to deal with the deteriorating industrial situation, but the Conservative
Party was defeated. The new Labour government reached a deal with the
miners shortly afterwards.
|By 1984 the coal industry was
in decline and the National Coal Board wished to close 20 pits, a situation
that would have led to 20,000 men losing their jobs. The National Coal
Board claimed that the contract made with the unions in 1974 was no longer
valid because of the changes that had occurred in the British economy.
||The Conservative Government, under
Margaret Thatcher, was determined to diminish the power and influence
of the Unions. The Unions themselves argued that the Government's policies
were having a damaging effect on the coal communities.
|Arthur Scargill, President of the
National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), called on the miners to strike, and on
12 March a strike started which was to last for nearly a year. Miners
from 28 south Wales pits played an influential role during the strike
through their picketing and protesting.
|Many movements were
set up in support of the miners, such as Women Against Pit Closures
(WAPC). These women played an important role in the strike by raising
money to help support the miners and their families.
Eventually the miners
acknowledged defeat and returned to work on 5 March 1985 after calling
the strike off two days earlier at a special NUM Conference. The coal
industry continued to decline in south Wales with 12 pits closing within
a year of the strike coming to an end.