Britain's 270,000 coal miners voted by an overwhelming 81 per cent for a national strike to press their pay demands on the government, it was announced in London on Monday (4 February).
GV EXT NUM Headquarters building in London
GV INT Zoom in to CU Gormley seated at speakers table
CU Results of the voting announced by Major Frank Britton
CU Gormley speaking
LV Gormley surrounded by press
CU Sign showing Financial Times Stock Index
CU Member of public interviewed
SV Man in street speaking
GV INT Public House, customers interviewed
CU Woman in street interviewed
MAJ. BRITTON: "Total number of papers removed from ballot boxes; two hundred and thirty-three thousand, two hundred and eighty-six. That, incidentally, is abut seven thousand more than voted in your 1973 ballot. Of these, the number valid is two hundred two and thirty-two thousand six hundred and fifteen. This vote is divided: Voting "Yes", hundred and eighty-eight thousand three hundred and ninety-three. Voting "Now", forty-four thousand, two-two-two. The "yes" figure is -- within one hundredth -- eighty-one per cent of the vote.
JOE GORMLEY: "With this vote in favour, of eighty-ene per cent, it occurs to a lot of people that the miners' leaders do know what the miners are thinking, rather than the reverse.
REPORTER: "How do you think this will effect the market today?"
BROKER: "The market at the moment is down -- but it is not going down as much as you might think, really,"
REPORTER: "What about the long term. Do you think this will have a great impact?"
BROKER: "Bound to. Yes."
MAN ON STREET: "As I understand the position, it does not necessarily mean that they are going to strike. And, everybody hopes that in fact they don't strike, that the executive are able to negotiate terms."
REPORTER: "The miners have voted by eighty per cent to support their executive in whatever moves they take. How do you feel about that?"
MAN IN PUB: "It isn't surprising that they voted that way, what I'm worried about is what happens when the electricity runs out at home. It's bad enough already with the work situation."
REPORTER: "Do you think the miners will go out on strike? Because, they didn't actually vote to go out, they just voted to support their executive."
MAN IN PUB: "I think their executive is very keen on going out."
SECOND MAN: "I think they deserve a pay rise, but I think they should appreciate that the present economic state of the country, they chould accept it within "stage three."
WOMAN: I" feel it's all wrong. They should go to work to support their families."
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Background: Britain's 270,000 coal miners voted by an overwhelming 81 per cent for a national strike to press their pay demands on the government, it was announced in London on Monday (4 February).
The four-to-one mandate for a strike increased the likelihood of a crippling stoppage in the coalfields starting next Sunday (10 February). The ballot was held in the coalfields last Thursday and Friday (31 January and 1 February) and gives the miners' leaders authority to call a strike but does not automatically mean strike action.
The decision to call a strike rests with the union's 27-man national executive which is scheduled to meet on Tuesday (5 February) to decide what action the union should take in pressing its wage claim. Meanwhile, crucial discussions between union leaders and the government continue in an attempt to find a compromise solution.
The result of the secret ballet was announced at the miners' union headquarters by Major Frank Britton, an official of the Electoral Reform Society, which had the job of coupling the votes.
Mr. Joe Gormley, the union President, renswed the union's money demands immediately after the result was announced: "What we need is more cash on the table". He went on to say that "this result will prove to a lot of people that we (the union leaders) know what the miners are thinking, rather than the reverse."
The 81 cent majority was the highest for a strike in the union's history.
A transcript of Major Britton's announcement of the results and Mr. Gormley's comments follows.
The British economy, which is already reeling under the battering of the county's unfavorable balance of trade and the energy crisis, will be hard hit if the miners go out on strike. There are warnings that steel production would come to a virtual standstill within weeks and the already curtailed work-week could be further threatened.
The British public, who still remember the austerities caused by the last miners strike in 1972, are afraid of another job action that could threaten the country's electricity supply and their jobs.
Visnews report Anthony Steward found the public generally resigned to a passible miners strike and the effect it would have on their lives. A transcript of his, interviews follows.