Miners to strike in jobs fight

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The Independent Online
THE FIRST national coal strike since the year-long confrontation of 1984-5 moved closer yesterday when miners voted for industrial action, writes Jason Bennetto.

The National Union of Mineworkers' executive announced 60 per cent support for a strike. It will decide on Thursday when to call a 24-hour stoppage as part of a 'rolling programme' of action.

The NUM president, Arthur Scargill, had called for industrial action as the 'next essential step' in the campaign to save 30,000 jobs and all 31 pits on British Coal's original closure list.

The ballot taken on Friday won biggest support in South Wales (87 per cent), Lancashire (77) and Leicestershire (75). Miners in Yorkshire voted in favour by 66 per cent, and in the Midlands by 65 per cent.

Speaking at a rally in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, Mr Scargill said: 'We shall now campaign with all the power to our elbows for all the jobs.'

The closures were suspended last October when the Government announced an energy review. A White Paper on energy is expected after the Budget.

Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, said the miners' vote made it harder to avoid closures. He said: 'The reason we have problems today is that very large numbers of customers have chosen to change their source of energy. An important reason for this was the industrial relations in the pits. This sort of decision only serves to confirm to customers for coal that they were right.'