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Miner speaks out 30 years on

Women Against Pit Closures organiser Sylvia Pye, trade unionists Margaret and Eric Jones and former miner and key speaker Billy Pye.

Women Against Pit Closures organiser Sylvia Pye, trade unionists Margaret and Eric Jones and former miner and key speaker Billy Pye.

A leading miner and trade unionist who battled at the forefront of the Miners’ Strike 30 years ago was a guest speaker at an anniversary event in Lancaster.

Billy Pye, from Lancaster, worked at the Parkside Pits in Wigan which finally closed in the 1990s.

Mr Pye said at the meeting, held at the Gregson Centre on Saturday, that the year-long battle in 1984/5 was as a clear an example of class war as you could have.

The meeting was brought together by activists from that time – Eric and Margaret Jones of the Lancaster Miners’ Support Group – with the support of Lancaster and Morecambe Trades Union Council.

Billy’s mother Sylvia was also a guest.

She was an organiser of the Women Against Pit Closure Campaign, which ran alongside the strike, not only campaigning, but looking after miners’ families and keeping them up to date with what was happening.

Mr Pye also rejected the notion that the strike, which was led by Arthur Scargill, was a defeat.

“A defeat would have been to do nothing, and accept the closures without a struggle, as the Prime Minister of the time, Margaret Thatcher, put all the weight of the state against smashing the trade unions,” he said.

He recalled the brutality of the policing but also paid tribute to the supporters and fundraisers.

The room also hosted an exhibition of memorabilia, posters and pictures from the dispute.

The exhibition moved to Lancaster University on Sunday for a similar event with students.

 

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