Working miner complained he was not protected during strike

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Indy Politics

The divisions that tore communities apart in the miners' strike of 1984 and 1985 were exposed in files made public yesterday. The National Coal Board (NCB) papers released to the National Archives under the Freedom of Information Act are the first official documents from the dispute to be put into the public domain.

One is a report from the colliery manager at the Markham Main pit in Yorkshire on the difficulties of managing those prepared to work on through the strike. The working miners who were prepared to cross the picket lines were seen as crucial weapons by the Government in its struggle with the National Union of Mineworkers, and the NCB was supposed to do all it could to encourage them.

In February 1985, one of the pit's working miners, Graham Smith, complained to the press that he was not getting adequate protection after his house was vandalised and he received threatening calls.

In his memo to the NCB board, the pit's manager, G Longmate, insisted that he had done all he could, while revealing the tensions the strike caused, even among those supposedly on the same side.

"As a manager I spent a major part of my life at this time nursing Smith," he stated. He said he had given Mr Smith full assurances he would be "looked after no matter what happened" and that his job security with the NCB was "absolute".

On Mr Smith's comments to the press, the manager was scathing. "His statements are rubbish and no one can feel more aggrieved than myself after all the time I have spent looking after this man."