Jim Phillips
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Closures and workplace conflict
The origins of the strike
in Collieries, communities and the miners’ strike in Scotland, 1984–85
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This moves the analysis to the strike's origins and outbreak, with escalating workplace tension as management – led by Albert Wheeler, the Scottish Area Director of the National Coal Board – sought to cut production costs by closing some pits and attacking trade unionism in those that remained. Rule books detailing union involvement in daily operations were ‘torn up’, literally as well as figuratively. The moral economy of the coalfields, tested although not quite broken in the 1960s and early 1970s, was now explicitly transgressed, with decisions by managerial fiat, and closures and job losses damagingly felt in the context of unemployment, rapidly escalating under the deindustrialising impact of Thatcherite economic management. Workforce resistance resulted, observable in a sequence of pit-level disputes in 1983, as well as the outbreak of the strike itself in 1984.

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