LEST WE FORGET

Armistice Day is 11 November. We pause to observe the Two Minute Silence at 11.00am on this day every year because at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War I ended and 2018 marks 100 years.
During this time, we remember those who have made sacrifices for the freedom we enjoy today.

Miners and the First World War

At home and abroad, the coal miners of Great Britain made an enormous contribution to the war effort during the years 1914 to 1918. Great waves of young pitmen rushed to enlist, 191,170 of them responding to Kitchener’s call to arms within seven months of the start of hostilities, representing about one in five of all mining personnel (men, boys and women). By the summer of 1915 250,750 workers had left their collieries for military service. Some mines were so seriously depleted of labour, for instance in Durham, that a two-shift system had to be introduced in order to keep production going, and within a few weeks, several of the larger Yorkshire collieries ‘lost’ more than half of their key workers. Those miners ‘left behind’ worked extra hard to produce the coal that the country demanded to keep the home fires burning and drive a huge military machine. Despite the government’s mine-recruitment campaign, there remained a serious shortfall of labour, making the achievements of the coal-getters, still largely by pick and shovel, even more significant. These were sadly forgotten achievements, as were the contributions of so many women and girls, on the pit tops and in the homes, surely the greatest unpaid workforce imaginable.

At home and abroad, the coal miners of Great Britain made an enormous contribution to the war effort during the years 1914 to 1918. Great waves of young pitmen rushed to enlist, 191,170 of them responding to Kitchener’s call to arms within seven months of the start of hostilities, representing about one in five of all mining personnel (men, boys and women). By the summer of 1915 250,750 workers had left their collieries for military service. Some mines were so seriously depleted of labour, for instance in Durham, that a two-shift system had to be introduced in order to keep production going, and within a few weeks, several of the larger Yorkshire collieries ‘lost’ more than half of their key workers. Those miners ‘left behind’ worked extra hard to produce the coal that the country demanded to keep the home fires burning and drive a huge military machine. Despite the government’s mine-recruitment campaign, there remained a serious shortfall of labour, making the achievements of the coal-getters, still largely by pick and shovel, even more significant. These were sadly forgotten achievements, as were the contributions of so many women and girls, on the pit tops and in the homes, surely the greatest unpaid workforce imaginable.

Although patriotism played its part in recruitment, for many miners joining the Colours had other advantages, including regular pay and regular meals; and of course, escape from what was a hellish and highly dangerous occupation. In 1913, 1,753 miners were killed at work and a staggering 178,000 were injured. Apart from in the communities in which these men worked, there was little or no public awareness of the day to day fatalities; but when 439 men and boys – and a rescue worker – died in the Universal Colliery disaster at Senghenydd in the same year, the world’s presses jumped into action, and Parliament once again woke up to discuss safety in mines, safety that was so disgracefully ignored by the owners at Senghenydd, whose ‘punishment’ was scandalously minimal. Yet in South Wales, where the miners were perceived by much of the press as a ‘militant’ and ‘disruptive’ force – they were passionate enough to fight for their rights and over 40,000 of them enlisted.

Still largely lost in the background and unaccounted for was the silent but slow and relentless toll caused by industrial disease. It is not surprising, therefore, that so many pit lads and their mates downed their shovels and picks to ‘see the world’, so sadly unaware of what lay ahead.

For some young miners the initial call to arms was an invitation to ‘see the world’, for what was generally perceived as a short interlude, a few months away from their families and communities.

Although miners served in all the theatres of war it was in France and Flanders, on the Western Front, where they were most obvious. As a fit and skilled workforce, used to dealing with adversity and so co-operative when under extreme pressure, they became a ‘most wanted’ workforce in military contexts. In Pioneer corps, for example, they had vital roles in creating and maintaining hundreds of miles of trenches. It has only been relatively recently, thanks to Sebastian Faulks’s novel Birdsong and the work of military historians such as Peter Barton, that the role of miners as tunnellers in the secret but often spectacular ‘underground war’ against their Germans opponents – for which there was considerably empathy – has become widely known. Specially recruited for (or attached to) the Royal Engineers, these men showed exceptional bravery throughout the conflict, one veteran miner-tunneller, William Hacket, awarded the Victoria Cross, sadly posthumously, for his extreme and unselfish gallantry at Givenchy. On the pages of newspapers in any coalfield area are countless stories of former miners who were lost or killed in action, and/or given military honours. Almost 50 VCs were awarded to former miners during the War, an extraordinary statistic that we should be aware. The physical stature of some miners did not go unnoticed, when they were recruited to serve on the Bantam regiments; and they were also prominent in other, somewhat forgotten areas, such as part of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), as stretcher bearers and first-aiders, a role that they had experience and training in the mines. And of course, ‘mine rescue’ became an integral part of the tunnelling war referred to above.

Most of the c.120,000 former miners who survived the war and were in a reasonably fit state of health on discharge returned to the pit where they were previously employed or at least tried to. Unemployment, poverty and disputes ravaged coalfield communities yet again during the early 1920s, paradoxically at a time when war memorials and rolls of honour were being unveiled.

It is only really through individual family stories that miners’ contributions can be properly appreciated. We should never forget the role and bravery of miners in the Great War, irrespective of nationality.

Additional

By January 1917, after conscription had been introduced, and when mineworkers were supposedly classed as a ‘reserved’ occupation, recruitment continued, increasing the total to 282,200. This was due to the great demand for skilled miners for use in tunnelling and other specialist areas of the military services, and despite the great need for increasing coal output for the war effort. And by the end of the war it is estimated that the aggregate number of miners who served in the Great War was about half a million, an astonishing statistic.

With thanks to Brian Elliott https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Brian-Elliott/a/184

Policing during miners’ strike: independent review SCOTLAND

PUBLIC MEETINGS


The call for evidence is open until 30 November 2018. NUM National President, Nicky Wilson has urged all those who can assist with this important review to do what they can to help.

• Cumnock Town Hall (62 Glaisnock Street, Cumnock, KA18 1BY) on Tuesday 13th November
• Lochgelly Centre (Bank Street, Lochgelly, KY5 9RD) on Tuesday 20th November
• National Mining Museum (Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange, Dalkeith, EH22 4QN) on Wednesday 21st November
• Fauldhouse Miners’ Welfare Society (5-7 Bridge St, Fauldhouse, Bathgate EH47 9AY) on Tuesday 27th November
• Oakley Miners’ Welfare Club (Blairwood Terrace, Oakley, Dunfermline KY12 9QG) on Wednesday 28th November
• Fallin Miners’ Welfare Society and Social Club (Main St, Fallin, Stirling FK7 7HY) on Wednesday 5th December
• Auchengeich Miners’ Club (3 Auchengeich Rd, Moodiesburn, Glasgow G69 0JN) on Thursday 6th December

For further information see link https://www.gov.scot/groups/independent-review-policing-miners-strike/#Minersstrikereview

At Last Government Accept IIAC Recommendation

With the acceptance of the IIAC recommendation the next steps will be the prescription so what is the likely qualification?

According to the IIAC document click here

• You have worked for ten or more years in aggregate which involves use of hand-held powered tools whose internal parts vibrate so as to transmit vibration to the hand for at least two hours per day on three or more days per week.

• The disease should be at the stage that involves fixed flexion deformity (contracture) of one or more of the digits (fingers).

Chris Kitchen

The NUM have raised this issue many times and the Durham Miners have been at the forefront of the campaign to have this recommendation accepted. NUM Secretary Chris Kitchen said that he hoped that the government would ensure that all the paperwork is completed as soon as possible to enable claims for Industrial Injuries Disablement benefit to be made. Chris went on to say that this is another example of the good work done by the NUM and the NUM Area’s and despite the last pit closing in Durham in the 1990’s the work done yet again demonstrates the relevance of the union in 2018.

Previous article http://num.org.uk/news/page/2/


General Information*
Contracture
In simple terms, ‘contracture’ is ‘bending of the finger’.
Many people who have nodules or cords may never develop a contracture, but some will.
In those patients after some time, usually months or years the cords may start to cause a contracture.
After a while (normally months to years) the affected finger(s) may not straighten completely anymore (it becomes impossible to lay the hand flat on a table), and in the worst affected cases the finger(s) start to bend into the palm of the hand
Diagnosis
How Dupuytren’s is diagnosed
Physical examination
In most cases an experienced doctor (GP or hand surgeon) does not need any extra tests to diagnose Dupuytren’s disease. The main things the doctor will do are:
• Ask a detailed history, when did you first notice this, did any injury happen that set it off, does anybody in your family have something similar.
• The doctor will look at your hands and examine them by palpation, feeling in your palm and fingers for any lumps or cords present.
• The doctor will ask about or check for problems elsewhere, mainly feet and shoulders and for men the penis.
• A table top test may be done to see if contracture is present, which mean you need to put your hand palm down on a table and see if the hand can lay flat.

 *Source:http://dupuytrens-society.org.uk/information/dupuytrens-disease/dupuytrens-diagnosis/

 

CISWO CLOSE DERBYSHIRE MINERS CONVALESCENT HOME IN SKEGNESS

Former miners and their families together with retired workers from the home staged a last show of defiance outside the home in Skegness. For years the home has provided respite for many thousands have enjoyed the fresh sea air from the prime location on the sea front.
For some reason CISWO gave instructions that the gates be locked and employed security to enforce this order. Despite this it did not prevent some of those at the home for the last time speaking to the people who turned out to express their disappointment.
There is a real sense of loss with the closure of this home in a prime location and questions are being asked as to what has been done to keep the home open. CISWO is a registered charity and people asked what grants had been applied for to keep the home open and had other business plans been considered. To some CISWO appear to be simply cashing assets rather than maintaining those assets that were given to them with the winner being CISWO and the loser being the mining communities.

Former Derbyshire Miner Geoff Poulter has to speak from behind locked gates to those who came out to listen. 
Nottingham NUM NEC Member Alan Spencer speaking to the media.
Yorkshire Miners wrestle with the wind and show their support.
Many thanks to Skegness and Louth Labour Party for showing their support.

SPECIAL FEATURE: International Solidarity UK and Ukrainian Miners

International solidarity between the miners of Ukraine and the UK goes back a long way. It was Welshman John Hughes and Welsh miners who travelled to Ukraine to develop the Donbas coalfields in the Nineteenth Century. In the fifties and sixties there were regular trade union exchanges. During the 1984/5 strike the Ukrainian miners raised money and food to support the striking UK miners. In 2007 after an international miners’ union conference in India it was agreed to restore regular solidarity exchanges. Even in 2014 after the tragic upheaval in Ukraine leading to the Maidan revolution and the overthrow of their corrupt President Yanukovych a delegation from the Mineworkers Union of Ukraine (PRUP) came over and addressed the Durham Miners Gala.

Sergey Yunak, head of the Pavlograd Ukrainian Mineworkers Union addresses the 2014 Durham Gala
Ukrainian Miners representatives gather in Durham in front of South Wales NUM banner

This year, on the 55th anniversary of the establishment of the Pavolograd, Western Donbas coalfield, a group of representatives of the NUM attended the celebrations of Miners Day and Independence Day alongside miners and Union representatives.
The Pavlograd coalfield has enormous reserves. It consists of ten coal mines, part of the DTEK energy company. Together they employ around 20,000 workers in the area and produce around half the entire coal production of Ukraine, around 20 million tonnes which is used to supply local power stations.

Each year the miners and townspeople come together to celebrate Miners day and Independence day but also to lay flowers at the town memorial to all the victims of war, from the Cossack wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to the victims of the Holodomor (Stalin’s forced famine which killed around 5 million people between 1932-33) , the victims of the Nazis in the fight against fascism and more recently the 18 local miners who have died fighting on the front line to protect Ukrainian independence from Putin’s invasion of parts of Eastern Ukraine. Chris Kitchen laid flowers on behalf of the NUM.

Photographic memorial to Pavlograd citizens and miners who died fighting the Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine
NUM General Secretary Chris Kitchen in front of the memorial to the Pavlograd victims of wars and fascism
Flowers being laid at the memorial to the victims of war, Stalin’s famine and the fight against fascism

A march through the town by local miners and veterans of the current war with their bullet holed flags was a reminder of the current difficulties faced by the town and the country and the sacrifice currently being made by the local population.
This commemoration was followed by a celebration of Ukrainian independence. Cossacks with flags, families and young children dressed in national costumes singing Ukrainian songs and even an English song. Many present were brought to tears when many of the young people ran over to the NUM representatives and wives and hugged them, thanking them for visiting their town.

Ukrainian children greet the UK NUM delegation with songs, flowers and hugs

Pavlograd is a coal town but also a Union town. Just as with the Durham Gala, miners are proud of their contribution to the economy and local community as the townspeople are of them. It was a great honour to be invited to attend the unveiling of a giant miner’s lamp in the local park in recognition of the miners’ contribution to the town and local economy.

New Pavlograd reminder of the importance of coal and the sacrifices of Ukrainian miners

Meetings took place between the NUM and PRUP discuss the lessons that could be learned from the demise of the UK coal industry and how to continue the preservation of miners’ history through local museums and cultural contacts. The delegation also met with the Mayor of Pavlograd and the head of Pavlograd coal to discuss issues around coal production and the development of new technologies.

NUM General Secretary meeting with the head of DTEK Pavlograd Coal and Ukrainian miners’ leader Sergey Yunak

Other visits included a visit to the local branch of the equivalent of the British Legion which seeks to support those injured in the war or suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
These volunteers include many local miners , who have themselves served on the frontline, work with the injured to help rehabilitate them, to cope with their problems physical or psychological and provide community support.

Dnipro museum to the Anti-Terrorist Operation in Ukraine

On the final day in Pavlograd, we were all taken to enormous indoor and outdoor concerts attended by thousands of local people to celebrate Miners day through music, dance and at the end, a spectacular firework display.

Miners’ children perform a dance routine on Miners Day highlighting the process of coal mining and the dangers of mining

The bond between British and Ukrainian miners is strong. Whatever the government, whatever the country, miners are the same the world over and share a common bond. The importance to the Ukrainian miners of the international solidarity of the NUM cannot be underestimated. Its importance to the local community was shown by the tremendous reception the NUM received wherever they went. This NUM delegation on the 55th anniversary of the Pavlograd coalfield was exceptional, meeting not just union representatives, but company representatives, local miners, local families and young people. Everywhere the message was the same. Thank you for coming, it means a lot to us. Please come again.

COAL COMBINE MEETING

NUM / unite the UNION
The meeting was hosted by the NUM in Barnsley with Jerry Swain (National Officer Unite), Graham Walton (Unite Shop Steward and Coal Combine Secretary), Nigel Yaxley (Managing Director CoalImP) and Chris Kelsey (Communications Manager Banks Group).
The need to raise awareness of the serious situation regarding the coal industry was discussed at length. Coal seems to be overlooked with coal needed not just for electricity generation but also iron and steel manufacture, cement manufacture, coke manufacture, domestic heat generation, sugar production, food and beverage production, chemicals production, patent fuel manufacture including smokeless briquettes, carbon fibre products and many other uses.
Early Day Motions were discussed as a way of trying to raise awareness of the plight of coal and it was considered useful that MP’s be made aware that if the UK is to have any fuel security at all then the whole coal industry from production to distribution and use needs to be considered. In a written answer to Philip Davies MP, Con, Shipley, the Minister said on 12 June 2018 ‘I have regular discussions with Ministers in other governments on a range of topics, including the production and use of coal, promoting the UK’s Industrial Strategy and maximising opportunities for UK firms after Brexit.’ The meeting asked what had been discussed in relation to the UK coal industry and what could we expect ‘after Brexit’.

Since the meeting Ronnie Campbell MP, Labour Blyth Valley has tabled an EDM which is common sense and should be supported by all MP’s. Ask your MP to support this motion.

Early day motion 1596
NEED FOR COAL TO MAKE STEEL AND CEMENT IN THE UK
• Session: 2017-19
• Date tabled: 10.09.2018
• Primary sponsor: Campbell, Ronnie
• Sponsors:
That this House notes that coal is an integral part of the UK manufacturing sector used in the chemical process to make steel and cement; further notes that over the last decade around nine million tonnes per annum of coal has been needed in the UK for non-electricity generation purposes; notes that if coal is not produced in the UK it will be imported from countries including Russia, the US, Colombia and Australia which produce more carbon dioxide through its transportation than coal produced in the UK; and therefore calls on the Government to recognise the production of high quality coal in the UK supports jobs, skills, taxes and investment in the UK and cuts down the carbon dioxide emitted in transporting coal from producers thousands of miles away.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT

Opened 3 Sep 2018

Policing during miners’ strike: independent review
Closes 30 Nov 2018

Contact
minersstrikereview@gov.scot

Overview
This is a general call for evidence on the impact of policing on affected communities in Scotland during the period of the miners’ strike from March 1984 to March 1985. Evidence is sought from affected individuals and representative groups. The evidence gathered in this exercise will help inform the report and any recommendations made by the Independent Review to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf MSP.

Responses are requested by Friday 30 November 2018. Please make your response in no more than 2,000 words.

See link for further information.
https://consult.gov.scot/justice/policing-during-miners-strike-independent-review/

Miners’ Skegness Home Under Threat

The closure of The Miners’ Retreat, Skegness formerly the Derbyshire Miners’ Convalescent Home, would be yet another blow to those who worked in the coal industry.
The home which is open to all with mining background has been open since 1939 and according to CISWO is still in high demand “the level of demand for rooms remains very strong with occupancy level in 2015 of 91.3% with 1,159 rooms booked out of an available number of 1,460.“
With its seafront location it is no wonder why people are upset, and the NUM has written to CISWO to see what has been done to retain this facility.

Read Chris Kitchen’s letter here.

Why Do MP’s Not Sign Early Day Motions?

(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)

The latest briefing paper on the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme placed in the House of Commons Library 25 July 2018 is worth a read (click here).
The paper covers the issues raised by mining MP’s who were members of the NUM at the time and those that continue to help.
It also acknowledges and references the work of Les Moore’s ‘Mineworkers Pension Scheme for Justice and fair play Association’ and that the campaign is calling for a review of the 50/50 sharing of surpluses to be changed to reflect: a more realistic percentage which reflects the guarantors’ risk and recover all monies that rightly belong to the mineworkers of the UK.
It should be pointed out here that although there are those who feel that an MP’s Early Day Motion (EDM) is a waste of time the fact that a well worded EDM in support of miners’ pensions is not shown as supported by all Labour MP’s does not help our cause and we urge all MP’s to support the case for a review and support EDM’s that reflect that.